IOPN is excited to announce the upcoming release of A Bicentennial Crossroads: 200 Years of Continuity and Change in Rural Illinois by Matt Meacham, Program Manager for Statewide Engagement at Illinois Humanities. In 2018, six rural Illinois cultural organizations hosted installations of “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” a Museum on Main Street exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and Illinois Humanities, which coincided with the Bicentennial of Illinois statehood. Each organization supplemented the exhibit with companion exhibits and public programming to localize the themes and content. Bicentennial Crossroads explores the stories and themes of the exhibit and its local companions – the change and continuity of the past two centuries of rural Illinois.
The Illinois Humanities-facilitated tour of “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” a Museum on Main Street exhibition produced by the Smithsonian Institution, coincided with the Bicentennial of Illinois’s statehood. The six small-town organizations that hosted Crossroads created remarkable locally-focused companion exhibitions and public programs that collectively formed a compelling survey of continuity and change over two hundred years of rural Illinois’s existence. I appreciate the opportunity to share our local partners’ inspiring work with readers of A Bicentennial Crossroads, and I’m deeply grateful to them, to my Illinois Humanities co-workers, and to the Illinois Open Publishing Network staff. – Matt Meacham, Program Manager for Statewide Engagement at Illinois Humanities and Author
The book contains 16 chapters exploring the exhibits’ themes of identity, land, community, persistence, and change. Meacham begins the book by framing its contents with the debate about what is considered rural, and what the meaning of “rural America” is. Next, the first section of the book discusses the issues and themes of the companion exhibits and programming, with an emphasis on commonalities between them. The second section of the book explores how the creation and implementation of these companion exhibits and programming demonstrate ongoing negotiations to contemporary changes in rural Illinois. The book concludes with a final chapter that summarizes and reflects upon the past, present, and futures of rural Illinois.
Bicentennial Crossroads will be published by IOPN under the Windsor & Downs imprint in fall 2023.