Smithsonian traveling exhibition coming to Falls City

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The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street, in cooperation with Nebraska Humanities Council and the Richardson County Arts and Humanities Council, presents “Crossroads: Change in Rural America.” The exhibition examining the evolving landscape of rural America opens at the Stalder Gallery, located inside the Falls City Library and Arts Center at 1400 Stone Street, on Friday, Nov. 19. An opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19. The reception is free and attendees will get the first look at the “Crossroads” exhibition while enjoying historical music by Jeff and Mary Barker.  

“Crossroads” will be on view through Monday, Dec. 27. The Stalder Gallery and the surrounding community has been expressly chosen by the Nebraska Humanities Council to host “Crossroads” as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition will tour seven communities in Nebraska from Sept. 11 through June 26, 2022.

“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 percent of the landmass considered urban. Since 1900, the percentage of Americans living in rural areas dropped from 60 percent to 17 percent. 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. 

“‘Crossroads’ allows us to reflect on Falls City’s history, present and future and we are excited to explore what the future may hold for our community,” said Christina Wertenberger, Curator of the Stalder Gallery. “We want to convene conversations about what makes our community unique and have developed local exhibitions and public programs to complement the Smithsonian exhibition.” 

Such free events include gallery tours, downtown historical tours and community engagement activities. 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 state humanities councils, these towns 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 exhibition is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. To learn more about “Crossroads” and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit www.museumonmainstreet.org. Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress. SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit www.sites.si.edu. 

“Crossroads” can be viewed during regular library hours Monday and Wednesday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. In conjunction with the Falls City Chamber, on Saturday, Nov. 27, during Shop Small Town Saturday the Stalder Gallery will be open from 9 a.m. to noon. Larger groups wishing to see the exhibition are encouraged to contact the Falls City Library and Arts Center at 402-245-2913 to let them know when you will be visiting so they can be prepared. Any questions can be directed to Stalder Gallery curator Christina Wertenberger at 402-245-6034

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