Crossroads: Change in Rural America
In cooperation with The Smithsonian Institution and the South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum, SDHC is pleased to announce that we are sponsoring the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street traveling exhibition “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” on tour through June 2023.
In 1900, about 40% of Americans lived in rural areas. By 2010, less than 18% of the US population lived in rural areas. In just over a century, massive economic and social changes led to significant growth of America’s urban areas (although less than 10% of the US landmass is considered urban).
Many Americans assume that rural communities are endangered and hanging on by a thread—suffering from outmigration, ailing schools, and overused land. But that perception is far from true in many areas.
Many rural Americans work hard to sustain their communities. Revitalizing rural places matters to those who remain, those who left, and those who will come in the future because all Americans benefit from rural America’s successes. We can learn great things from listening to those stories.
Four venues have been chosen throughout South Dakota to host this traveling exhibition: Brookings, Yankton, Sturgis, and Fort Sisseton.
In each of the four Crossroads tour locations, the host venues will contribute their own programming to give the exhibition a unique, locally-based context. While SDHC does provide financial assistance and logistical support to the venues at each Crossroads tour site, the exhibit will be unique and representative of different themes across our state.
Crossroads: Change in Rural America offers small towns a chance to look at their own paths and explore 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.
Despite the massive impacts brought on by economic and demographic changes to America’s small towns, rural communities continue to creatively focus on new opportunities for growth and development. Economic innovation and a focus on the cultural facets that make small towns unique, comfortable, and desirable have helped many communities create their own renaissance.
The future is bright for much of rural America as small towns embrace the notion that their citizens and their cultural uniqueness are important assets.