State Councils Host Museum on Main Street Exhibits

July 7, 2015
Defense worker in Muscle Shoals, AL
Photo caption

Frame for a section of demountable houses, which the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) built at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, for defense workers.

Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

Museum on Main Street (MoMS) is a unique undertaking that specifically serves small town museums and rural residents. As a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils, and institutions nationwide, it allows for prestigious Smithsonian exhibits to travel near and far throughout the country. History is able to come to life for those who might otherwise miss these cultural events.

In Alabama, the last stop of a two-year tour of the exhibit, The Way We Worked, happened in Dothan this June. With support from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, it was presented by the Cultural Arts Center of Dothan and Troy University Dothan Campus. The exhibit, which examines the past 150 years of work in America, was hosted by six Alabama cities each year with more than 50,000 people visiting. The Way We Worked was adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives, and explores how work became an integral part of American culture by tracing the social and technological changes in our society.

A man with a hat and t-shirt cooking a stew
Photo caption

Dr. Will Moreau Goins and his signature chili at a Native American “cook-off” in South Carolina

Image courtesy of the Humanities Council South Carolina

In South Carolina, food was the topic of conversation in the exhibit Key Ingredients: America by Food, which toured the Palmetto State from June 2008 through May 2009. In the past decade, foodways have evolved from dinner party conversations to a subject of scholarly study by academics, journalists, and gourmands alike. Hosted by the Humanities CouncilSC, Key Ingredients explores the evolution of the American kitchen through food industries and technological innovation. Beyond the home kitchen, its archives show how restaurants, diners, and celebrations help build a sense of community through food. Their companion booklet explores the “cultural stew pot” of South Carolina (complete with recipes), and can be downloaded here.

Scientist Jacques Yves Cousteau wrote, "We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one." Looking ahead, Water Matters is an upcoming exhibit that will debut in May 2016. Divided into two different exhibits, Water/Ways is created for small museums, and will focus on the relationships between people and water. H2O Today is designed for city museums and will explore global water issues and water science. Visit the MoMS site for information on how to host this upcoming exhibit.