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Crossroads: Change in Rural America

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

a traveling exhibit by the Smithonian Institution's Museum on Main Street

Next Appearing at: Museum of Friends, Walsenburg CO

August 26 through October 8, 2023





In 1900, about 40% of Americans lived in rural areas, By 2010, less than 18% of the U.S. population lived in rural areas. In just over a century, massive economic and social changes moved millions of Americans into urban areas. Yet, only 10% of the U.S. landmass is considered urban.


Many Americans consider rural communities to be endangered and hanging on by a thread—suffering from brain drain, inadequate schools, and a barren, overused landscape. Why should revitalizing the rural places left behind matter to those who remain, those who left, and those who will come in the future? Because there is much more to the story of rural America.


Crossroads: Change in Rural America offers small towns a chance to look at their own paths 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.


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. Economic innovation and a focus on the cultural facets that make small towns unique, comfortable, and desirable have helped many communities create their own renaissance. The future is bright for much of rural America as small towns embrace the notion that their citizens and their cultural uniqueness are important assets.



Important dates relating to this exhibit:


Saturday August 26 2023 5pm to 7pm


COMMUNITY OPENING

Light refreshments served.

Public Programs, 2nd floor:


August 18th at 6 pm


“The Five States of Colorado” documentary film at the Walsenburg Fox Theater followed by a discussion on change led by a Colorado Humanities Scholar with refreshments served.


Friday August 18th from 3 to 5 pm and Friday August 25th from 3 to 5 pm


Two Volunteer and Docent Training sessions to learn how to lead tours through this unique exhibit (refreshments served).


August 29th through October 8th


School-Tour program for youth K through 12 from (some Mondays may be available for scheduling if necessary).


September 16th 11 am to 1 pm


Youth Workshop with CU Boulder Drama Department’s Professor Jim Walker and Improvisation Troup (at the Fox Theater and pizza will be served).


September 16th 5 to 7 pm


Story Share Troup will present a lively and entertaining improvisation after months of interviewing and videotaping some of Walsenburg’s most interesting community members.


 

Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Highlighting Changing Landscape of Rural America Coming to Walsenburg, Colorado


Colorado Humanities will tour “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” a Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) exhibit to 10 Colorado communities August 2023 to December 2024. The exhibit takes a broad look at the characteristics of rural America. It explores how an attraction to and interaction with the land formed the basis of rural America, and how rural communities and small towns evolve. It also highlights how change has transformed rural America and how rural Americans are evolving for the future. The exhibition opens at the Museum of Friends, 109 E. 6th St. Walsenburg, CO 81089, on August 26, 2023 and will be on view there through October 8, 2023 (hours Tuesday through Saturday 10 am until 5 pm) before moving to the other communities.


About “Crossroads: Change in Rural America”


“Crossroads” explores how rural American communities changed in the 20th century. Currently, 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.


“‘Crossroads’ allows us to reflect on Huerfano County and Walsenburg’s history, present and future and we are excited to explore what the future may hold for our community,” said Maria Cocchiarelli, Museum of Friends’ Executive Director “We want to convene conversations about what makes our community unique and have developed two local exhibitions on the 2nd floor that focus on the Counter-culture’ contribution to change called “The Foundation” and “The Reach.” The public programs and facilitated conversations to complement the Smithsonian exhibition are free events with donations welcomed and will be held at MoF at 600 Main Street, in Walsenburg. These include the film “The Five States of Colorado” at the Walsenburg Fox Theater on August 18th at 6 pm followed by a discussion on change in Huerfano County led by a Colorado Humanities Scholar with refreshments served. “The film premiered in Denver on April 6, 2023, at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Sturm Family auditorium. This 90-minute documentary film explores the five distinct areas created by Congress in 1861 that are now Southern Colorado; Western Colorado; the Eastern Plains; the Front Range along the eastern face of the mountains; and Metropolitan Denver. Each of these regions within the state’s man-made boundaries vastly differs in terms of populations, communities, cultures, communications, and economies that have evolved from their varied geography and histories.”


School-Tour program for youth K through 12 from August 29th through October 8th (some Mondays may be available for scheduling if necessary)


Two Volunteer and Docent Training sessions to learn how to lead tours through this unique exhibit: Friday August 18th from 3 to 5 pm and Friday August 25th from 3 to 5 pm (refreshments served)


Opening Celebration event on Saturday August 26th from 5 to 7 pm (refreshments served)





Story Share with CU Boulder Drama Department’s Professor Jim Walker and Improvisation Troup will visit Walsenburg on Saturday September 16th for two programs:

11 am until 1 pm local youth and adults are invited to learn improv skills at the Fox Theater (pizza will be served)


5 pm to 7 pm at the Fox Theater Story Share Troup will present a lively and entertaining culmination of many months of interviewing and videotaping some of Walsenburg’s most interesting community members. Artists, writers and musical composers have been developing new works based on these stories. (Refreshments will be served) RedLine’s Art in Society Grant and Paonia’s Blue Sage Center for the Arts has supported this program.


Culminating conversation will be held in the fall to explore the impact that the MoMS exhibition “Change in Rural America” had on opening up a dialogue with our community. Date and Time to be announced.


Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress, Colorado Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.




About Colorado Humanities


Colorado Humanities is the only Colorado organization exclusively dedicated to supporting humanities education for adults and children statewide. Celebrating its 49th year and its 19th year as host for the Colorado Center for the Book, Colorado Humanities, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, partners with hundreds of organizations across the state, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Library of Congress Center for the Book, the Smithsonian Institution, and the national award-winning educational nonprofit Helps Education Fund.


Contact the Museum of Friends at 719-738-2858 or info@museumoffriends.org to learn more about how you can support and participate in this event.




Exhibition Supporters: Stacy Decker Jacque Sikes Fred Eccher Margo Boodakian SPRH

Opening Celebration Support: Sam’s Club, Pueblo Charlie’s, La Veta Go Ask Alys Catering, La Veta Crafty Canary, Walsenburg La Plaza, Walsenburg


Thanks to the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center for providing additional support for this exhibit.



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