By Rosie Githinji
This article orginally appeared in Mt. Vernon Register-News
MT. VERNON — — The Jefferson County Historical Society will be hosting Journey Stories, an exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution for six weeks.
Jamie Wheeler, Jefferson County Historical Society director of community relations, said the exhibit will be making its way across the United States to various rural museums.
The exhibit is scheduled to begin Saturday, June 23 and run through August.
The Journey Stories exhibit is presented by the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum on Main Street program and the Illinois Humanities Council. Each story showcases the immigration and migration in the United States over the past 400 years.
Wheeler said the Jefferson County Historical Society will also have additional local exhibits on display that relate to the theme of going on a journey, with displays and interviews from the local community about railroads and service stations in the area. There will also be programs focusing on the journey theme which will take place during the exhibit in July.
“It’s basically about journeying to America and journeying within America,” Wheeler said. “We have taken the concept of journey stories and put our own spin on it. We did pull in different people how have their own stories.”
Apart from the exhibit kiosks in the museum, there will also be signs up on the different buildings, which will talk about journeys for each time period depict in the different structures. Wheeler said the Historical Village will not only have personal stories, but the journey stories of different institutions.
Mallory Laurel, program coordinator for the Illinois Humanities Council, said six sites in Illinois were selected for the exhibit. The Illinois Humanities Council also provides up to $2,000 in grant funds to help with the set up of the exhibit.
“We accept applications for every tour,” Laurel said. “In some cases, we do recruit if there are certain areas we want to reach out to. We try to have close to every region in the state covered.”
The exhibit requires a certain level of ambition and experience, Laurel said. It is a large commitment and she said that narrows down the pool of applicants each year. She said usually 10 to 15 organizations apply and six are chosen each year.
“It is a huge project for not only the organization, but the community to undertake,” Laurel said. “We want to make sure first and foremost this exhibit is relevant to the people in your town.”
Laurel added the exhibits tend to focus on broad American themes and also that personal stories are part of the exhibit to make it more compelling.
“The best part of this exhibit is that we are bringing a high quality exhibit to a small town,” she said.
During the exhibit the Historical Village will have extended hours and will be open every day of the week until the exhibit moves on, from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The exhibits are free and open to the public. For more information on the Journey Stories exhibit, call the Jefferson County Historical Village at 246-0033.