Past Museum on Main Street Tours

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.

  • Crossroads (2022-2023)

    Crossroads: Change in Rural America offered towns a chance to look at their own paths to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. The exhibition prompted discussions about what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred.

    In 2022-2023, 69,388 Marylanders explored change in rural America.

    • Farm Heritage Conservancy & Southern Maryland Heritage Area, Benedict (Charles County)

    • Oxford Museum, with UMD Agriculture Extension & Rural Life Museum, Oxford/Trappe (Talbot County)

    • Western Maryland Heritage Association, with Frostburg State University & Appalachian Regional Commission Teaching Project, Cumberland/Frostburg (Allegany County)

    • Rose Hill Manor Park and Museums, Frederick/Middletown (Frederick County)

    • Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area, Kent Cultural Alliance, Chestertown (Kent County)

  • Voices and Votes (2021-2022)

    Voices and Votes: Democracy in America is based on a major exhibition on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and examines the ways in which our democracy demands action, reaction, vision, and revision, as we continue to question how to form “a more perfect union.”

    In 2021-2022, ###### Marylanders explored their relationships with democracy.

    • Allegany Museum, Cumberland (Allegany) with partner Frostburg State University and Allegany College of Maryland
    • Queen Anne’s County Historical Society, Centreville (Queen Anne’s) with partner Kennard African American Cultural Center and Main Street Centreville
    • Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, Salisbury (Wicomico) with partner Salisbury University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore
    • Sandy Spring Museum, Sandy Spring (Montgomery)
    • The Historical Society of Baltimore County, Cockeysville (Baltimore) with partner Community College of Baltimore County

  • Water/Ways (2019-2020)

    Water/Ways examines water as an environmental necessity and an important cultural element. The statewide tour of Water/Ways was part of Maryland Humanities’ Maryland H2O. A two-year initiative, Maryland H2O explored our many and varied relationships with water—which is part of our history, our culture, our future—through multiple programs. Maryland H2O also includes the Smithsonian exhibition H2O Today; One Maryland One Book 2019; Chautauqua 2019: Making Waves; and engaging programs to spark a statewide discussion about water.

    In 2019-2020, 42,592 Marylanders explored their relationships with water.

    • The Historical Society of Baltimore County, Cockeysville (Baltimore) with partners Back River Restoration Committee, Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability, Baltimore County Office of Tourism and Promotion, Cockeysville Public Library, Cromwell Valley Park Council, Ecotone, Fire Museum of Maryland, Gallery Unicorn at Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, Gunpowder Falls State Park, Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, The Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum, Master Gardener’s program, Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association, Oregon Ridge Nature Center, Patapsco Valley State Park, and Patapsco Heritage Greenway.
    • The Oxford Museum, Oxford (Talbot) with partners Oxford Community Center and Oxford Parks and Recreation; and support from the Oxford Garden Club and Oxford Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary.
    • Washington County Historical Society, Hagerstown (Washington) with partners C&O Canal National Historical Park and C&O Canal Trust
    • Cambridge Main Street, Cambridge (Dorchester) with partners Dorchester Center for the Arts, Dorchester County Department of Tourism, Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area, Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Choptank River Lighthouse, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Cambridge Yacht Club, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, Richardson Maritime Museum, Main Street Gallery, Blackwater Adventures, Dorchester Skipjack Committee, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory, Chesapeake College, Shore Rivers, Dorchester County Historical Society, Hoopers Island Oyster Co., Cambridge Power Boat Racing Association, Dorchester Seafood Heritage Association
    • Crisfield Heritage Foundation, Crisfield (Somerset) with partners Somerset County Library, The Crisfield Arts & Entertainment Project, Crisfield Chamber of Commerce, and the local Church Community
    • Calvert Library, Prince Frederick (Calvert) with partners Calvert Marine Museum, Bayside History Museum, and Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory

  • The Way We Worked (2016-2017)

    The diversity of the American workforce is one of its strengths, providing an opportunity to explore how people of all races and ethnicities identified commonalities and worked to knock down barriers in the professional world. This exhibition explored how we identify with work – as individuals and as communities.

    In 2017, 32,980 Marylanders participated in exploring our state’s rich work history.

    • Western Maryland Heritage Association/Allegany Museum, Allegany College, Allegany County Historical Society, Allegany Library System, C. Gilchrist Museum of the Arts, C&O Canal National Historical Park, F. Brook Whiting House, Frostburg University, Frostburg Museum, Frostburg Discovery Center, Gordon-Roberts House, and Thrasher Carriage Museum, Cumberland, MD
    • Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Post # 25 “Sumner Hall”/C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, with Downtown Chestertown Association, Greater Chestertown Initiative, Historical Society of Kent County, Kent County Arts Council, Kent County Library, Kent County Schools, Kent County Tourism Office, Museums of Kent County, RiverArts, Sultana Education Foundation, Town of Chestertown offices of Economic Development and the Mayor, Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board, Center for Environment and Society, and Clifton E. Miller Library, Chestertown, MD
    • Carroll County Farm Museum/Union Mills Homestead Foundation, Gatehouse Museum of History, Westminster, MD
    • Brunswick Heritage Museum/Brunswick Public Library, Brunswick, MD
    • Salisbury University Art Galleries/Salisbury Arts & Entertainment Committee, Edward H. Nabb Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University, and Fulton Public Humanities Program at Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD

    Work By The Numbers

  • Hometown Teams (2014-2015)

    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, 64,452 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

  • “Across three months of programming, Kent County witnessed an explosion of 39 free public humanities and arts program presented by more than 20 community partners. Hosted by local churches, businesses, storefronts, art galleries, environmental groups and government agencies, these programs included lectures, exhibitions, walking tours, poster contests, book discussions, school field trips and oral history projects. This wide-ranging and grassroots approach to fostering civic dialogue created a moment for the community to pause and reflect – to consider together its diverse work experiences and shared economic histories while also discussing the county’s economic potential and planning policies moving forward.”

    Barbara Foster, Vice President, G.A.R. Post #25 Sumner Hall, Chestertown, 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 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
  • “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​
  • “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
  • “[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
  • “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
  • “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
  • “The opportunity to host the Smithsonian’s “The Way We Worked” exhibition allowed Sumner Hall to develop meaningful companion exhibits that can remain open to the public in the future. Exhibitions across the county were co-curated by community tradition-bearers, scholars, and college students, empowering citizens of diverse backgrounds to work together to tell their own often-untold stories.”

    Barbara Foster, Vice President, G.A.R. Post #25 Sumner Hall, Chestertown, MD, Host Site, Museum on Main Street
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