In The News

Smithsonian Encourages Sharing ‘Journey Stories’ at Library

This article originally appeared in La Salle News Tribune

PRINCETON — Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibition, “Journey Stories,” is making a pit stop at Princeton Public Library beginning Nov. 18.

The library was one of six destinations chosen by the Illinois Humanities Council to host the 800-square-foot exhibit, which displays many types of American journeys. Library curator Margaret Martinkus said Journey Stories centers on immigration to America and migration from one part of the country to another for all types of reasons, whether it was slaves being brought over, the Gold Rush or the migration of Native Americans.

She said the exhibit can be interpreted many ways.  “It could be a journey that’s physical, emotional or a journey because of age. We take all types of journeys,” she said.

The exhibit looks at the flow of American history from the viewpoint of mobility. It uses engaging images, audio and artifacts to explore the stories of people leaving behind everything — voluntarily or involuntarily — to reach a new life in a new place. The exhibit also examines the intersection between modes of travel and Americans’ desire to feel free to move. That’s accomplished through the accounts of individuals and families relocating in search of fortune, their  own homestead, employment or fun and frolic on the open road.

A local component also will be woven into the exhibit, and should include local artifacts, stories and examples of mobility from the surrounding areas. Examples include Cherry Mine Disaster, Owen Lovejoy Homestead and its connection to the Underground Railroad and the Piper Airport.

A wall collage titled, “Wish You Were Here,” will display local families’ vacation photos and postcards of recent and long past trips.

Library program director Ron McCutchan said including a local aspect to the existing exhibit was a requirement. “It’s a way of hallmarking and saying, ‘Hey you live in a community that has rich history and it’s really something to be proud of.’ It’s in a way instilling some civic pride and awareness and having the whole community come together and celebrate that and learn something,” he said.

McCutchan said although the exhibit will travel to six other communities, bringing in a different local factor to each one will make each “Journey Stories” exhibit its own.

The library has partnered with several community organizations including Bureau County Historical Society, Bureau County Tourism, Princeton Chamber of Commerce, Friends in Council, Bureau County Farm Bureau and Friends of the Princeton Public Library to help bring together programming to correlate with the exhibit and encourage others to be a part of the display.

“Hosting this exhibit during the holiday season will feature our town at an opportune time and will allow us to include some of Princeton’s true wealth of people, places and especially its rich traditions. I’m looking forward to working with organizations and the business community as we share our own Journey story,” said Martinkus. “Personally, I robably won’t ever go to Washington D.C. and see the Smithsonian itself, I may, but I’m not going to count on it. This way I get a little piece of it right here that I can see for six weeks in a row and really enjoy.”

A full schedule of programs that will take place during the exhibit is available at the library.

If You Go:

Exhibit Hours
“Journey Stories” is free and open to the public

The exhibit runs Nov. 18-Dec. 29

10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday

9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday

Group tours are available. Call (815) 875-1331 to schedule.

Grand opening

The library will host a “Journey Stories” opening reception

When: Sunday, Nov. 18

Time: 4-6 p.m.

Where: 698 E. Peru St., Princeton

Refreshments and musical entertainment will be provided