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Museum on Main Street Comes to Athol

Smithsonian’s “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” Arrives at Athol Public Library

Athol Public Library

The Town of Athol’s past and present-day way of life will take center stage as the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street (MoMS)’s “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” comes to the Athol Public Library from May 14 through June 24, in cooperation with Mass Humanities.

“Crossroads: Change in Rural America” offers small towns like Athol a chance to look at their own path to highlight the changes that have 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.

Throughout the exhibit, the “Crossroads” theme will connect Athol’s land, people, identity, persistence, and change to evaluate the town’s past, present and future.

Mass Humanities will host a reception to celebrate the closing of the MoMS statewide traveling exhibit with the Rural Policy Advisory Commission on Monday, June 12 at 4 p.m. at the Athol Public Library.

Photographer Brenda Sullivan

Over the past year, the staff at Athol Public Library received extensive training from Mass Humanities and the Smithsonian, along with a $10,000 grant from Mass Humanities to develop public events during the six-week exhibit.

Mass Humanities’ partners for the statewide tour include the National Endowment for the Humanities, Big Y and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Launched in 1994, MoMS is a Smithsonian outreach program that engages small-town audiences and brings revitalized attention to underserved rural communities. The program partners with state humanities councils like Mass Humanities to bring traveling exhibitions, educational resources and programming to small towns across America through their local museums, historical societies and other cultural venues. Exhibitions are designed to engage communities and become a catalyst for conversation about life in small-town America.

Organizations located in towns with populations of 12,000 or less were eligible to apply for the MoMS grant. The six sites chosen for MoMS will have the opportunity for a second-year grant to continue the work and programs they developed as part of MoMS.

MoMS kicked off in Massachusetts in September at the Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum, traveled to the Hull Lifesaving Museum in October, the Rutland Free Public Library in December, and the Great Falls Discover Center at Turners Falls in January before arriving at the Bushnell-Sage Library in Sheffield in March.

Athol Public Library will close out the traveling exhibit’s tour in the state.

For further information, contact Program Officer Jen Atwood at

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