Iola’s Bowlus Center Features Smithsonian Institute Museum Until Oct. 10

The Bowlus Fine Arts Center announced today, that they will be the first stop in Kansas
for the “Smithsonian Crossroads: Change in Rural America Exhibit.” The “Crossroads” Kansas tour is
sponsored by Humanities Kansas in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street

The Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit will be housed in the Large Rehearsal Hall from August 29-October 10, 2020. Admission is free.

“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.

The exhibit covers themes such as: Identity, Land, Community, Persistence and Managing
Change with photographs, hands-on activities, and audio and video clips provided by the Smithsonian in the
“Crossroads” exhibition to tell the history and culture of local rural life in Kansas and spark conversations about
our state’s future.

“Through a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program, Humanities Kansas
is able to bring the resources of the nation’s premier cultural institution to Kansas,” said Julie Mulvihill, executive
director of Humanities Kansas. “The six communities were selected because of the inspired plans provided by
local organizations to use the national exhibition as a springboard to explore local stories of innovation and

As a requirement for selection, a local companion exhibit was to be established. “Allen County: From Trails
to Rails to Highway and Back,” will take you on a journey with a fictitious family who found their way into the
South East Kansas territory in 1856. The historical fiction is told by way of the diary writings of Jerimiah Wilson
and his subsequent children in the later years. Working with the local newspaper and the writings of local
historian, Larry Manes, this diary will be printed in the format of a special newspaper section in the proceeding weeks of the exhibit opening, along with extra prints to be available at the exhibition. The exhibition layout will bein the chronological order of the diary. Certain passages highlighted in the printing will be displayed on the walls with surrounding supportive photographs, articles, and artifacts. The diary writings take patrons through the
many crossroads experienced throughout Allen County’s history and will invite the viewing patron to imagine
what will be the next chapter for the Wilson family as the next generations come to their crossroads.

The Allen County Historical Society (ACHS) and the Bowlus Fine Arts Center submitted a joint proposal in
April 2019 to Humanities Kansas to be considered for selection as one of six Kansas communities to host
the nation-wide exhibit. With 32 communities from across Kansas submitting proposals, our proposal was
selected, as were five other Kansas communities: Alma; Independence; Greensburg; North Newton; and

In addition to the six sites hosting the Smithsonian, ten communities will create their own exhibitions and
programming to explore what it means to live rural in the 21 st century, the relationship between rural, suburban,
and urban, and the progress and persistence needed by communities of all sizes to thrive. Participating
communities include Colby, Council Grove, Dodge City, El Dorado, Ellinwood, Hays, Lebanon, Olathe, Onaga,
and Satanta.

Humanities Kansas sponsors the “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” initiative in partnership with the
Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program, a one-of-a-kind cultural project that serves small
towns and residents of rural communities. To learn more about the “Crossroads” statewide tour visit
For more information about “Crossroads” at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center visit or call

Humanities Kansas is an independent nonprofit spearheading a movement of ideas to empower the people of
Kansas to strengthen their communities and our democracy. Since 1972, our pioneering programming, grants,
and partnerships have documented and shared stories to spark conversations and generate insights.

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