NORTH VERNON - A Smithsonian Institute exhibit will make a scheduled stop in North Vernon beginning next month. The Smithsonian's Crossroads: Change in Rural America exhibit is currently on a tour of Indiana communities. The display will be available during Indiana Humanities' INseparable initiative at the Stellar Building in North Vernon from December 12 to January 26.

The interactive display follows the timeline of rural America from farming to industrialization to the digital age. Local components are also implemented, including a Jennings County "identity cabinet" made by local high school students, which is filled with local artifacts and a timeline display of local history. An intergenerational discussion will also be held about the county's future from 2 to 4 p.m. January 5 in the Carnegie Government Center.  

“This project is about building pride in our community and an awareness of where we’ve come, where we are and where we’re going,” said Joanie Van Horn, assistant director at the Jennings County Community Foundation.

Organizers have received a $4,500 grant from the Smithsonian's Stories: YES program, which will allow high school students to gather oral histories from area residents every Thursday during the exhibit. Students will use new equipment and software to transform the oral histories into digital stories. 

The exhibit is a component of the Museum on Main Street program, a division of the Smithsonian used to showcase displays of resources to rural communities. The tour will make three more stops in the Hoosier state:

  • Elkhart County Historical Museum in Bristol, Feb. 1, 2020 to March 15, 2020.
  • North Manchester Center for History in Wabash County, March 21, 2020 to May 3, 2020.
  • University of Southern Indiana/New Harmony in Posey County, May 9, 2020 to June 21, 2020      

Each community will receive training, funding and resources from the Smithsonian and Indiana Humanities to host the exhibit for six weeks. The exhibit is currently being held at the Washington County Historical Society in Salem until December 6, and was previously on display at the Aurora Public Library, Dilsboro Branch from September 7 to October 20.