Crossroads: Change in Rural America


About the Exhibit

In 1900, about 40% of Americans lived in rural areas. By 2010 that number had dropped to 18%. In just over a century, massive economic and social changes led to significant growth of America’s urban areas. Yet, less than 10% of the U.S. landmass is considered urban.

Many Americans assume that rural communities are endangered and hanging on by a thread—suffering from outmigration, ailing schools, and overused land. But that perception is far from true in many areas with rural Americans working hard to sustain their communities. Why should revitalizing the rural places left behind matter to those who remain, those who left, and those who will come in the future? Crossroads: Change in Rural America will explore these questions while engaging rural communities in a rich and exciting discussion about their futures.

Crossroads: Change in Rural America offers small towns in Michigan a chance to examine their own paths and to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. The exhibition will prompt discussions about what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred.

There is much more to the narrative of rural America and Crossroads is your chance share the story!

The Michigan Humanities is coordinating the exhibit’s tour in Michigan and seeks six partner organizations in rural communities to host Crossroads in 2019-2020. Selected sites will host the Smithsonian exhibit, work with local partners in their community, and create additional programming to support the exhibit.

For more information on this traveling exhibition, visit the Museum on Main Street website.


The six host sites and dates of the exhibit are:

  • Dundee (Southeast) Monroe County
    Venue: Old Mill Museum
    September 7–October 13, 2019
  • Decatur (Southwest) Van Buren County
    Venue: Van Buren District Library-Webster Memorial Library
    October 26–December 8, 2019
  • Grayling (North) Crawford County
    Venue: Deveraux Memorial Crawford County Library
    December 14, 2019–January 26, 2020
  • Reed City (Central) Osceola County
    Venue: Reed City Depot, 200 N. Chestnut Street
    February 1–March 15, 2020
  • Rogers City (Northeast) Presque Isle County
    Venue: Presque Isle District Library
    March 21–May 3, 2020
  • Pickford (UP) Chippewa County
    Venue: Pickford Community Library
    May 9–June 21, 2020


Crossroads is made possible in Michigan by the Michigan Humanities. Crossroads is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils across the country. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.