Museum on Main Street Host Community Information

Who should consider applying to host Museum on Main Street?

Is your community interested in developing its local heritage tourism landscape and converting its unique history into tourism revenue streams? Are you already in the midst of developing local heritage tourism but would like to increase and advance your efforts, improve your existing visitor experiences, and build your organization’s capacity for bigger and better projects? Or perhaps you’re a heritage organization looking to diversify your audience and expand the geographic impact of your programming. Are you searching for the right project to help rally support from local leadership and facilitate new partnerships with other organizations in your region?

If your organization identifies with any of the above, then Museum on Main Street may be the right project for you. Still not sure? Check out a recording of our recent MoMS Info Session where we explain the program in depth and answer your FAQs. 

If selected, host communities will receive:

An approximately 750-square-foot exhibit designed and fabricated by the Smithsonian, as well as:

  • PR/Marketing materials, including digital files, press/media release templates, an outdoor banner, and full-color promotional posters[RH1] 
  • Fundraising resources, including letters of support from SITES staff and the exhibition curator, sample press clippings, testimonials from previous state hosts, and opportunities to offer your sponsors underwriting credit on an exhibit panel
  • Educational and support materials, including a host manual, a docent training guide, numerous online handouts and videos, and access to a national MoMS listserv
  • Smithsonian staff support, including their attendance at various workshops

1.5–2 years of in-depth heritage tourism consultation from THC staff, including the following training opportunities:

MoMS training begins in August 2023 and continues through the exhibit's opening in August 2024.

Hosts are required to attend every training above, including in-person meetings. Whether food and lodging costs are covered will vary by workshop and location. The cost of transportation to and from the workshops will be the responsibility of each host.

Workshops are meant to be engaging and interactive and will always consist of a combination of presentations, group discussions, solo and group activities, and other dynamic methods of learning.

Many of our initial workshop discussions will delve into the Smithsonian exhibit’s content, how it relates to your community’s history, how and where to identify the stories and customs that make your town unique, and most importantly, how to turn this heritage into experiences that visitors can enjoy for years to come.

THC's Role

The Smithsonian relies on partners like state humanities councils, state museum associations, and state agencies to help manage tours at the state level. As the new official state coordinator, the THC’s heritage tourism team will be your main contact for all things related to MoMS in Texas.

As state coordinator, we are committed to providing the following:

  • Exhibition Rental Fee, at a cost of $10–11k
  • Coordination of all host training (three in-person workshops, one site assessment, and virtual consultations), including most associated expenses, with some exclusions
  • A dedicated staff member to serve as the main point person at the THC, as well as a team of heritage tourism staff to help facilitate training and participate in site assessments in your community
  • A large network of history and preservation specialists as needed, including exhibition training courtesy of our colleagues in the Museum Services Program, who will provide both live webinars and on-demand content for easy remote learning
  • Communications and marketing support at the state level, including press and media releases, social media marketing, and more

Host Responsibilities

  • Tour planning typically begins 1–2 years before the exhibit arrives in state. This preparatory period is meant to allow host communities to produce the following required tour components:
  • Related exhibit that highlights local and regional history to accompany the Smithsonian exhibit. Learn more about these requirements.
  • Full schedule of heritage programs, events, or experiences that connect the exhibit’s national story to your local one.
  • Heritage tourism product that serves as an aid or resource for heritage travelers, such as a map, guide, passport, or digital asset like a website or mobile app.
  • Planning partnerships at both the local and regional levels with a variety of organizations and individuals. Discover more ideas on potential partnerships.

In addition, host communities are responsible for providing:

  • A suitable exhibit space for both the Smithsonian and local exhibits, plus storage space for the exhibit crates
  • Staff member or volunteer who will serve as a local project coordinator who will attend every training or planning workshop

Financial Responsibilities

The total expense varies from one organization to another. Many resourceful organizations rely on community donations and volunteer hours to make their exhibitions possible. On average, organizations can expect to spend between $5,000 and $7,000 on the entire project. The kinds of expenses included in this number aren’t mandatory but they can impact how successfully you stage and market your community’s leg of the tour.

Host organizations are financially responsible for the shipment of the exhibition crates from the previous site to their own. (Exception: the first and last tour stop are not responsible for shipping to and from Washington, D.C.) To save money, sites will often work with a local moving or trucking company to sponsor this expense.

Hosts must also cover any costs related to the production of their locally focused companion exhibition, speaker or entertainer fees related to local programs and events, and any other exhibition or program-related fees. Because the THC is unable to cover travel to out-of-town workshops and planning meetings, hosts are also responsible for this expense, as well as lodging in some cases.

We hope that in future years, once the program is more established in Texas, we’ll be able to identify tour sponsors who can help subsidize some expenses.

Learn how to apply.