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Museum on Main Street

Bringing the Smithsonian to local communities.

Museum on Main Street engages small-town audiences and brings attention to underserved rural communities. Through traveling exhibitions developed by the Smithsonian Institution and coordinated by Mass Humanities, local museums, libraries, and other cultural spaces build their capacity to reach new audiences, develop public programs, and grow new partnerships. 

In 2022, Mass Humanities will coordinate its first Museum on Main Street exhibit, “Crossroads: Change in Rural America.” Six host sites will receive training from the Smithsonian and Mass Humanities, along with grants to create programs aimed at sparking conversations about the past, present, and future of their towns.  


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Application Deadline: September 27, 2021

Applicant Organization Requirements:

Eligible applicants must be a 501c3, government entity, tribal entity or educational institution

Each applicant organization will receive a $10,000 grant from Mass Humanities to host the exhibition for six weeks. Hosts will be responsible for developing at least six public programs to support the exhibit, including at least one community conversation held in partnership with another local organization.   A goal of the Museum on Main Street program is to foster organizational partnerships. Grant funds will also support trainings, publicity, planning meetings, and staff time.

Programming should tell a unique local story that ties in with the theme of Crossroads that will be the basis for a locally produced companion exhibition. 

Organizations must provide a cost share at least equal to the grant ($10,000). This support may be either in actual cash or in the form of in-kind contributions including volunteer time, contributed equipment and supplies, contributed facilities, and indirect costs.

Applicants must agree to completing final reporting for all open grants from Mass Humanities, with the exception of SHARP grants, by March 2022. 

Host Location Eligibility requirements:

Eligible Host Sites must be located in a community with a population of 12,000 or less. 

Eligible host locations must be a 501c3, government entity, tribal entity or educational institution

Eligible host sites must also be able to provide:

•             A minimum of 750 square feet of display space for the Smithsonian exhibition

•             A ceiling height of at least 8 feet, with at least one doorway of 82″ tall clearance

•             Functional electrical outlets in the display space

•             Enclosed shipping crate storage of 300 square feet

•             Minimum standards of security during the exhibition’s stay

•             Have convenient hours that are open and accessible to the public

•             Arrange for shipping of crates in an enclosed 26’ U-Haul (or similar) truck 

•             Mandatory attendance by two host site staff members at two workshops. 

Tips for Applicants

Museum on Main Street FAQs

View a video overview of the Crossroads Exhibit

View Crossroads Exhibit Details and Programming Examples

Once the six sites are selected, applicants will be required to submit budget and programming plans in order to receive funds.  Please see the list of Mass Humanities Budget Restrictions Mass Humanities Budget Restrictions here.

For more information, contact Jen Atwood at

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