This article originally appeared in the Decatur Herald & Review
CLINTON – A traveling exhibition of the Smithsonian Institution coming to Clinton is designed to challenge people’s view of the boundaries around them.
Between Fences, which opens Saturday at Vespasian Warner Public Library, will provide a mix of local, national and international history that organizers hope will spark interest.
It is part of the Museum on Main Street program, a partnership between the Smithsonian and state humanities councils nationwide, including the Illinois Humanities Council.
"I would like people to look more closely at the world around them and think about the boundaries we have, both the physical and our mental boundaries," said Bobbi Perryman, adult services librarian. "The Smithsonian part is exciting, but I’m really interested in our local exhibits that we found to go along with it."
Events throughout the course of the exhibit include speakers about the interurban railroad, rivers and conservation and the history of Clinton’s cemeteries. Perryman even found a piece of her family history that will be on display.
"My great-great-grandfather was a blacksmith who made fences," Perryman said. "We have some of his tools on display, which I’m really interested in, along with a picture of him so people can know what he looks like."
Clinton is one of six places where the exhibit will be stopping during its tour. It is scheduled for Arcola from April 25 to June 7.
Eastern Illinois University history professor Debra Reid will be speaking at 2 p.m. Saturday as part of the exhibit’s grand opening. Reid plans to give an overview of her and fellow professor Nora Pat Small’s research on the topic of conceptual barriers and boundaries.
"The owner of the private property thinks their rights are protected because of the fence," Reid said. "The person who had previously been able to range free thinks their rights are constrained."
In addition to physical fences separating property, metaphorical fences include race, zoning ordinances and the "other side of the tracks" in terms of where people can live, Reid said.
"It really does range broadly," she said. "It’s supposed to be a think piece."
Reid will focus her talk on more than just local issues.
"I really don’t want the talk to be about Clinton and how it fits within the topic of the exhibit," Reid said. "That’s what the folks in Clinton get to do. That’s their fun to figure out how they fit and how they agree or disagree with the ideas."
The exhibit will be open during normal library hours starting Saturday through Feb. 28. The library is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.