Interpretive Center to host Smithsonian exhibit

Published 6:10 pm Monday, October 23, 2023

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The Lowndes Interpretive Center is gearing up to host a Smithsonian exhibit at the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail.

Supervisory Park Ranger Shirley Baxter said the exhibit will launch in early November and focus on the past century of rural America.

“We are hosting a temporary Smithsonian exhibit – ‘Crossroads: Change in Rural America” that will be on display from November 4 through December 9,’ Baxter said. “It is only going to travel to five locations in Alabama.” 

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The exhibit will make it’s way to Alabama thanks to a partnership between the Alabama Humanities Alliance and the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program.

According to the Alabama Humanities Alliance, Museum on Main Street is part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service which provides access to the Smithsonian for small-town Americans through traveling museum exhibitions, research, educational resources, and public programming.

Baxter said the exhibit will allow visitors to explore the history of rural America and the ways rural life changed over the years.

“‘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,” Baxter said. “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.”

Baxter said American’s have relied on rural crossroads for generations and that Americans all over the country rely on the products of the countryside as well as the productivity of rural people for food and fuel.

 “Today’s rural communities often struggle against negative views of rural America,” Baxter said. “Many Americans consider these areas to be endangered—suffering from dwindling employment, inadequate schools, and a barren, overused landscape.”

The true story of rural America is much more complex, Baxter noted. “Revitalizing rural places matters to those who remain, those who left, and those who will come in the future,” she said. “Rural Americans are taking on that challenge. The future is bright as small towns embrace the notion that their citizens and their cultural uniqueness are critical assets.”

For more information about the exhibit, those interested can contact the Lowndes Interpretive Center by phone at 334-724-6080 or by visiting the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail at 7002 US Hwy 80 in Hayneville.