Past Museum on Main Street

Museum on Main Street is a unique cultural collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils, like Maryland Humanities, to bring high-quality traveling exhibits to small communities across the country.

Combining their strengths, small museums, regional arts councils, libraries, universities, and local governments partner to host the exhibit and produce dynamic humanities programs on the same theme, exploring the important stories that shaped their communities.

Capacity Building

Building capacity and developing skills for host organizations is a primary activity of the Maryland Humanities’ Museum on Main Street program. Workshops, led by experts in the field, cover topics like building partnerships, program planning, connecting with teachers and students, engaging culturally diverse audiences, and incorporating oral histories into public programming.

  • Hometown Teams (2015)

    Hometown sports are more than just games—they shape our lives, unite us, and celebrate who we are as Americans.

    • Banneker-Douglass Museum/University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Annapolis, MD
    • Federalsburg Historical Society/Win Transport/Caroline County Public Schools, Federalsburg, MD
    • Allegany Museum/Allegany County Historical Society/Frostburg State University/Allegany College/Allegany County Library System/Gilchrist Museum of the Arts/Frostburg Museum, Cumberland, MD
    • Galesville Community Center/Anne Arundel County Cultural Resources Division of the Office of Planning and Zoning, Galesville, MD
    • Howard County Historical Society/Howard County Tourism and Promotion/Howard County Recreation and Parks, Ellicott City, MD

  • Journey Stories (2012-2013)
    Tales of how we and our ancestors came to America are a central element of our personal heritage. From Native Americans to new American citizens—regardless of our ethnic or racial background—everyone has a story to tell.

    Over a seven month period, 115,367 Marylanders participated in 185 free public programs exploring our state’s rich history.

    • Harford County Public Library/Harford County Community Services, Abingdon, MD
    • Cecil County Arts Council/Cecil County Public Library/Historical Society of Cecil County, Elkton, MD
    • Brunswick Railroad Museum/Frederick County Public Library, Brunswick Branch, Brunswick, MD
    • Mosely Gallery, University of Maryland Eastern Shore/Main Street Princess Anne, Princess Anne, MD
    • Prince Georges Arts and Humanities Council/Oxon Hill Branch Library, Oxon Hill, MD

  • Between Fences (2010-2011)
    We live between fences. We may hardly notice them, but they are dominant features in our lives and in our history. Built of hedge, concrete, wood and metal, the fence skirts our properties and is central to the American landscape.

    Sixty-five humanities-based public programs planned in six communities reached 15,532 people directly.

    • Montpelier Mansion, Laurel, MD
    • Havre de Grace Maritime Museum, Havre De Grace, MD
    • The Boyden Gallery at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St. Mary’s City, MD
    • Montgomery County Historical Society, Silver Spring
    • Spruce Forest Artisan Village, Grantsville, MD
    • Julia A. Purnell Museum, Snow Hill, MD

  • Key Ingredients: America by Food (2007-2008)
    Our recipes, menus, ceremonies, and etiquette are directly affected by our country’s rich immigrant experience, the history and innovations of food preparation technology, and the ever-changing availability of key ingredients.

    Ninety-six humanities-based public programs planned in six communities reached 41,825 Marylanders.

    • Washington County Rural Heritage Museum, Boonsboro, MD
    • Historical Society of Cecil County/Cecil County Arts Council, Elkton, MD
    • Compton Science Center Exploratorium at Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD
    • City of Bowie Museums, Bowie, MD
    • Calvert Library, Prince Frederick, MD
    • Dorchester County Historical Society, Cambridge, MD

  • “The Smithsonian exhibit, Key Ingredients: America By Food, has left the building but not the community. We got a glimpse of what we can do and how we can bring the community together around a common goal. From this day forward, the sky is now the limit for DCHS.”

    ​Carol Lacy ~ Dorchester County Historical Society, Cambridge, MD, Host Site, Museum on Main Street
  • “[The Museums on Main Street] project was a win-win for the University and community. It enhanced student learning; they gained the ability to explore divisive topics from multiple angles and viewpoints, developed the skills needed to create engaging visual and audio displays, and cultivated an aptitude for envisioning a tangible project from inception through completion, all the while involving them in the local community.”

    ​Kara Rogers Thomas ~ Frostburg State University faculty, and Board Member at Spruce Forest Artisan Village, Grantsville, MD Host Site, Museum on Main Street
  • “The Smithsonian connection gave us new credibility. We were able to track attendance and we’ve seen a continued rise in weekend activity. Based on increased attendance numbers, we’ve decided to keep the museum open year round. Using our guest book, our gung-ho membership chair was able to double the membership in the Friends organization. This enhanced our treasury by a substantial amount and identified many new volunteers.”

    ​Dorry Norris ~ Washington County Rural Heritage Museum, Boonesboro, MD Host Site, Museum on Main Street
  • “Although “Fences” are down, the reverberations of our initiative are still resonating. The web of collaboration is clearly active. Many “reached across the fence.” Our community is all the stronger for it. The exhibition boasts the largest attendance of any seven week display on campus with a visitor count of over 1,050. Add to that the rich programming amounting to over 25 events which saw attendance again well over 1,000 participants. What is remarkable is the cross section of interest groups and individuals who attended from the three-county area of southern Maryland and beyond. In essence, the rich mosaic that formed attracted a broad range of people and opened a rare exchange of ideas. We witnessed epiphanies!”

    ​Mary Braun ~ Director of the Boyden Gallery, St. Mary’s College, St. Mary’s City, MD Host Site, Museum on Main Street
  • “The project definitely raised the visibility of our organization in western Maryland. Spruce Forest Artisan Village has become a fixture in Garrett County, but it does become taken for granted. This project gave local residents a new reason to make the effort to make a return visit to the Village. Moreover, the programs hosted by the adjacent Penn Alps Restaurant helped us in reaching a new audience.”

    ​Kara Rogers Thomas ~ Frostburg State University faculty, and Board Member at Spruce Forest Artisan Village, Grantsville, MD, Host Site, Museum on Main Street
  • “We were very proud to have been chosen to partner with the Maryland Humanities on this exhibit project. Small museums, such as ours…are generally not able to field programs of this scope. Maryland Humanities has truly given us an opportunity to bring a nationally recognized program to the City of Bowie and Prince Georges County and have made it easy to reach and stretch and accomplish something that we’ve never done before on this level in our small museum system. The support of Maryland Humanities both financially and professionally is invaluable to us.”

    Pam Williams ~ Belair Manison, City of Bowie Museums, Bowie, MD, Host Site, Museum on Main Street​
  • “It was wonderful for us to be able to facilitate this occurrence for it demonstrated to key community stakeholders the power of our museum as an anchor in an old town that is working to draw people downtown and it demonstrated the value of working together on large initiatives.”

    ​Michael Dixon ~ The Historical Society of Cecil County, Elkton, MD, Host Site, Museum on Main Street
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Maryland Humanities is a statewide, educational nonprofit organization that creates and supports educational experiences in the humanities that inspire all Marylanders to embrace lifelong learning, exchange ideas openly, and enrich their communities.
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108 West Centre Street
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(410) 685-0095
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