The Smithsonian is coming to Sycamore!


Illinois Humanities recently announced the sites selected for Crossroads: Change in Rural America, a new Museum on Main Street exhibition produced by the Smithsonian Institution that will examine the impact of rural American culture upon the identity of the United States, past and present. The Sycamore History Museum was one of six sites selected throughout the state. They will be the last stop in the Illinois tour, hosting the display from May 11- June 22, 2019.

Museum on Main Street is a program conducted cooperatively by the Smithsonian and state humanities councils nationwide that gives rural Americans opportunities to experience world-class exhibitions in their own communities and enables the organizations that host the exhibitions to enhance their capacities in a variety of ways.

Crossroads will describe the views of various cultural communities regarding the use and management of land and will examine the role of land in the formation of local economies. It will also discuss the emergence of rural communities and the evolution of their economic and social structures, especially during the period of rapid change in the mid-20th century. Importantly, it will explore ways in which rural communities are responding effectively to challenges in the 21st century and invite communities to contemplate their own potential paths into the future.

“Illinois’s rural communities have played and continue to play a critical role in the history and culture of our state, and we are grateful to have the chance to work with the Smithsonian both to serve rural communities and to examine the development of rural Illinois,” said Angel Ysaguirre executive director of Illinois Humanities. “The level of interest in the topic is evidenced by the fact that we received a record number of applications to host this exhibition.”

With assistance from Illinois Humanities, each site will develop a companion exhibition and produce public programming that will link the subject matter of the Smithsonian exhibition to the history and culture of its own community.

“We are honored to be selected as a host Crossroads. Sycamore along with DeKalb County has numerous connections that will be explored in our companion part of the display,” explained Michelle Donahoe, Executive Director of the Sycamore History Museum. She continued, “As we receive more information from the Smithsonian, we will be reaching out to the community to help us share local examples of the national themes highlighted in the exhibit.”

Other site selected in Illinois to host the exhibit include: Chester Public Library, Chester; Old School Museum, Winchester; Lake Shelbyville Visitors Center, Shelbyville; Atlanta Public Library and Museum, Atlanta; and the Marshall Public Library, Marshall.

The Sycamore History Museum’s website,, will be regularly updated with new information about the exhibit. For more information about Illinois Humanities and Museum on Main Street visit

Photo: Michelle Donahoe, Executive Director of the Sycamore History Museum, attended a Museum on Main Street exhibit workshop in Edwardsville, Illinois to prepare for the new Smithsonian exhibit “Crossroads” that will be coming to Sycamore in May 2019.