Texas Historical Commission, Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street Program Brings Cultural Training, Consultation to Rural Texas

The Texas Historical Commission (THC) is accepting applications from rural communities of 15,000 people or fewer to host an upcoming traveling exhibit as part of a Smithsonian Institution initiative.

Created in 1994, Museum on Main Street is a traveling exhibition program of the Smithsonian’s Traveling Exhibition Service division. It seeks to create opportunities for underserved rural communities across the country to reflect on their history, culture, and people and to showcase their cultural-heritage assets to regional, statewide, and national audiences.  
“The Texas Historical Commission is excited to bring this economic development opportunity to rural Texas communities to build capacity and deliver an exceptional experience to visitors,” said Mark Wolfe, THC executive director. “I’m eager to see the creativity and great work host communities will develop from this partnership.”  

This year, six communities will be selected to host the exhibit for six weeks each. Selected host communities will receive up to two years of training and consultation from THC staff to prepare the local heritage tourism landscape for the arrival of the exhibit. Communities from the surrounding region are encouraged to participate in the training as well, making the program a true regional heritage tourism initiative.

Through this collaboration, selected host communities will build project-planning skills, form organizational partnerships, develop local assets, and create visitor experiences that will not only ensure a successful Museum on Main Street exhibit, but will also create sustainable change in their local heritage landscape.

Applications are open from March 15 through May 15, 2023. Host communities will be notified this year. Applications and more information about the Museum on Main Street initiative are available at thc.texas.gov/museum-on-main-street.

Despite the program’s name, this initiative is not limited to museum organizations. The THC’s Heritage Tourism Program hopes to work with a variety of community organizations in addition to museums—including cities in the THC’s Texas Main Street Program, Texas Heritage Trail Regions, downtown organizations, libraries, tourism organizations, certified local governments, municipalities, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, and other local organizations that are interested in transforming their local heritage into an economic boon for their community.  

About the Exhibit
The Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibit, "Crossroads: Change in Rural America," will tour six small Texas towns in 2024-25. It examines the impacts of the population shift from rural to urban areas in the U.S. during the last century, as well as the importance of preserving small towns for their unique culture, history, and economic revitalization opportunities.