The Michigan Humanities is now accepting applications from rural libraries, museums and non-profit community centers interested in hosting a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit in their community.

Six organizations in rural communities (populations less than 20,000) will be selected to host Crossroads: Change in Rural America from September 2019 through June 2020. The deadline to apply is December 3, 2018. For more information and the application visit us online at:

“Crossroads” explores how rural American communities changed in the 20th century. From sea to shining sea, the vast majority of the United States landscape remains rural with only 3.5% of the landmass considered urban. Since 1900, the percentage of Americans living in rural areas dropped from 60% to 17%. The exhibition looks at that remarkable societal change and how rural Americans responded.

Americans have relied on rural crossroads for generations. These places where people gather to exchange goods, services and culture and to engage in political and community discussions are an important part of our cultural fabric. Despite the massive economic and demographic impacts brought on by these changes, America’s small towns continue to creatively focus on new opportunities for growth and development.

Through a selection of photographs, objects, film, audio and interactives, “Crossroads” takes a broad look at the characteristics of rural America. It looks at how an attraction to and interaction with the land formed the basis of rural culture, and how rural communities and small towns evolve and change. It also highlights how change transformed rural America, especially during the 1900s, and how rural Americans are evolving for the future.

Designed for small-town museums, libraries, and cultural organizations, “Crossroads” will serve as a community meeting place for conversations about how rural America has changed. With the support and guidance of Michigan Humanities and the Smithsonian, host sites will develop complementary exhibits, host public programs, and facilitate educational initiatives to raise people’s understanding about their own history, the joys and challenges of living rural, how change has impacted their community, and prompt discussion of goals for the future.

The exhibit consists of five free-standing sections, with video, audio, and interactive components, along with artifacts mounted in cases and banners. It requires 700 sq. ft. of floor space.

Crossroads Host Sites Receive:

  • The exhibit, rent free, for six weeks.
  • Free exhibit shipping.
  • Opportunity to apply for a MH grant to support local programming.
  • Resource notebook, educational materials, and promotional materials.
  • Program planning assistance from MH and Smithsonian staff.
  • Access to a statewide network of experts for consultation, presentations, and for facilitated conversations.

What’s Included in the Exhibit:

  • Five stand-alone kiosks
  • Photographs, text panels, and objects
  • Audio clips
  • Video clips
  • Hands-on activities
  • Exhibition support materials for site coordinators

Host communities will complement the exhibit with public programming focused on their local history. Examples include lectures, discussion programs, photo exhibitions, and community-based documentaries. Exhibition-related expenses are covered by Michigan Humanities.

All interested organizations should review the eligibility and site requirements found on the application form. Applications can be submitted by mail or email. Questions, please contact James Nelson, Program Officer – (517) 372-7770 or

For more information, click here.

Click here for Smithsonian website.