For more than 60 years,
a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is May 9, 2021

Crossroads: Rural life in America

By Steven Ward

Crossroads: Rural life in America

Later this month, residents of rural Mississippi will have a chance to explore the history and future of rural life in America.

“Crossroads: Change in Rural America” is a traveling museum exhibit from the Smithsonian Institute that will tour Mississippi beginning later this month in Senatobia through June 27 in Greenwood.

The exhibit takes a broad look at the characteristics of rural America and explores how change has transformed the rural landscape and how rural Americans are evolving for the future.

“The exhibit is combined into six free-standing kiosks and one interactive digital kiosk. Each of the six kiosks examine different aspects and themes like rural identity, connection to the land, the role of community in rural areas, persistence and how rural communities manage change,” said Caroline Gillespie, program manager of the Mississippi Humanities Council.

For the past 15 years, the Mississippi Humanities Council has partnered with the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street division to bring traveling exhibits to communities around Mississippi at no charge to host communities or exhibit visitors, Gillespie said.

The exhibit will arrive in Mississippi in September and stay through June 2021, touring six different communities during its stay. Each host community will have Crossroads on display for six weeks, during which time they’ll also conduct public programs, events and community initiatives to complement the exhibit.

“Americans have relied on rural America for generations,” Gillespie explained.

“These places where people gather to exchange goods, services and culture and to engage in political and community discussions are an important part of our cultural fabric,” she said.

“The United States needs vibrant and sustainable rural communities. Americans, no matter where they live, rely on the products of the countryside (and the productivity of rural people) for food and fuel. This is particularly true in Mississippi, a state that is ‘rural’ in every sense of the word. Mississippi is comprised of hundreds of small towns and communities, each with their own identity, challenges and successes. Understanding both our history and future as a rural state is an important step in learning more about ourselves and our identity.”

There is a local component to the exhibit that each host site is responsible for, Gillespie said.

“Because we know that the Museum on Main Street exhibits can’t fully explore specific Mississippi stories, each Mississippi host site is required to develop a complementary exhibit that focuses on their own local Crossroads story. The local exhibit component ensures that the themes addressed in the main Crossroads exhibit are also explored at the local level, and it’s an opportunity for local host sites to explore their own community’s history,” she said.

Those local portions of the exhibit could include student art projects, oral histories or public calls for artifacts and memorabilia.

Gillespie said exhibit visitors can expect a real treat.

“The free exhibit is appropriate for all ages and includes text, images, interactive objects and more. However, Crossroads isn’t just a static, physical exhibit for people to look at and enjoy. It goes beyond that by asking important questions about rural identity and rural communities that spark conversations, stories and sharing. It’s a chance for communities to come together to celebrate, learn and grow,” she said.





Northwest Mississippi Community College

Middle of September—October 27, 2020


Jane Blain Brewer Memorial Library

End of October—December 15, 2020


Waveland Ground Zero Hurricane Museum

Middle of December—February 2, 2021


East Mississippi Community College

Early February—March 23, 2021


Marion County Historical Society Museum & Archives

End of March—May 11, 2021


Museum of the Mississippi Delta

Middle of May—June 27, 2021

Site designed by Marketing Alliance, Inc.