About Spark! Places of Innovation

Spark! will highlight innovation in rural America from the perspectives of people who have lived it. Spark! features stories from communities throughout the United States – including several small towns in Illinois – that have enhanced their vitality through advances in fields such as the arts, education, technology, agriculture, and economic development.

Spark! Banner
Photo in banner by Randy von Liski

The 2023-24 tour is part of Illinois Humanities’ Museum on Main Street, a program conducted in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution specifically to support cultural organizations in
small communities. Each host organization produces a companion exhibit with unique programming that connects local history and culture to the exhibit themes.

Five of the organizations that will host Spark! Places of Innovation are based in communities that will be featured in the exhibition: Equality, Hillsboro, Rushville, Marshall and Chatsworth, which will be collaborating with organizations in nearby Fairbury, another featured community.

Spark! Places of Innovation will kick off its Illinois 2023-24 tour on June 17, 2023 in Equality, Illinois, where it will be hosted by the Gallatin County Tourism Committee.

The full traveling exhibition schedule includes the following seven stops in Illinois:

  • June 17-July 22, 2023: Gallatin County Tourism Committee, Equality
  • July 28-September 2, 2023: Imagine Hillsboro, Hillsboro
  • September 9-October 14, 2023: Community Connection of Central Illinois, Chatsworth
  • October 21-November 25, 2023: The HUB Arts and Cultural Center, Rushville
  • December 2, 2023-January 6, 2024: Durand Charm, Durand
  • January 13-February 17, 2024: Havana Area Chamber of Commerce, Havana
  • February 24-March 30, 2024: Marshall Public Library, Marshall.

About Museum on Main Street

Museum on Main Street is a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and state humanities councils, including Illinois Humanities. It not only enables Illinoisans to experience Smithsonian-produced exhibitions in their own communities but also gives the local cultural organizations that host these exhibitions opportunities to enhance their roles within their communities and regions, attract new audiences and volunteers, expand their knowledge and resource bases, and develop skills that can be applied toward future exhibitions and programs.

Periodically, Illinois Humanities facilitates a statewide tour of a traveling exhibition on a significant theme in American culture produced by the Smithsonian Institution. Illinois Humanities invites cultural organizations in small communities and rural counties throughout the state to apply to host the exhibition. Six organizations are selected to do so.

Each host organization displays the Smithsonian-produced exhibition for six weeks. It also produces a locally focused companion exhibition linking the subject matter of the Smithsonian-produced exhibition to the history and culture of its own community or region. Additionally, it presents public programs that engage audiences and participants with the topics and themes of the exhibitions. Through individual consultation and group workshops, Illinois Humanities staff members and consultants work closely with each host organization for a year prior to opening as they plan and prepare.

A Museum on Main Street exhibition requires significant investments of time, energy, and creativity from the host organizations and their community partners. Host organizations and communities reap significant benefits from their efforts, however, and often continue to do so long after the exhibition has concluded.

For more information about the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program, visit museumonmainstreet.org. For more about the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, visit sites.si.edu/s/.

Overview & Frequently Asked Questions