CHARLES COUNTY, Md. – Crossroads: Change in Rural America, a traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition, is opening at Serenity Farm in Benedict on September 8 at noon. The farm serves as the first venue of a five-stop tour of the state, presented through Maryland Humanities’ Museum on Main Street program. The Farm Heritage Conservancy partners with Maryland Humanities for the tour’s first Maryland stop. Each Crossroads partner creates its own exhibit to complement the Smithsonian’s exhibition.
The Farm Heritage Conservancy has created On this Land: Many Stories, Centuries of History, which explores stories about life, family, work, tools, and crops, things of everyday life of those who have lived on what is now known as Serenity Farm. The exhibit reveals how the land has served many purposes over the centuries from a home to Indigenous peoples and later a working farm producing primarily prime tobacco, to today’s diversified farming operation including a variety of crops, agritourism, and direct sale of farm-raised produce and meats to the public. Throughout the land’s history, the people who have called it home have lived through a changing world, which greatly effects their livelihood as farmers. Collectively, they’ve witnessed changes in weather and financial states, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and pressures from urbanization.
“The Farm Heritage Conservancy is proud and honored to bring Crossroads to the Southern Maryland region. This is a region that has seen enormous change in the last decades from primarily a tobacco farming monoculture to a diversified one,” says Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., who sits on the Board of Directors at the Farm Heritage Conservancy. “We hope our visitors will come away with a clearer understanding of the changes that are happening in rural America and how that applies specifically in the region in which they live.”
Crossroads is the eighth Museum on Main Street project brought to small communities throughout the state by Maryland Humanities. Each site hosts the exhibition for five to six weeks and develops a complementary exhibit highlighting their community’s heritage and histories.
“We are looking forward to the next iteration of Museums on Main Street, an invaluable tool for Maryland organizations,” says Lindsey Baker, executive director of Maryland Humanities. “We are so thankful to bring another tour around the state, because the program has a wide-reaching and long-lasting impact on the partner organizations and their communities.”
Crossroads programming is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the State of Maryland, and BGE. Maryland Public Television is the tour’s Media Sponsor. Farm Heritage Conservancy’s partners are Serenity Farm, Destination Southern Maryland, and Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.
Crossroads runs at Serenity Farm September 8–October 14, 2022. Serenity Farm is located at 6932 Serenity Farm Road in Benedict. The exhibition will be on view Thursdays through Sundays, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Learn more here and contact (240) 681-9292 or email@example.com for further information.
|September 8, 2022–October 14, 2022||Farm Heritage Conservancy at Serenity Farm, Benedict, Charles County|
|October 29, 2022–December 16, 2022||Oxford Museum at St. Paul’s Church, Oxford, Talbot County|
|January 7, 2023–February 17, 2023||Western Maryland Heritage Association at Allegany Museum, Cumberland, Allegany County|
|March 4, 2023–April 14, 2023||Rose Hill Manor Park and Museums, Frederick, Frederick County|
|April 22, 2023–May 31, 2023||Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area at Kent Cultural Alliance, Chestertown, Kent County|
In 1900, about 40% of Americans lived in rural areas. By 2010, less than 18% of the U.S. population lived in rural areas. In just over a century, massive economic and social changes led to massive growth of America’s urban areas. Yet, less than 10% of the U.S. landmass is considered urban.
Many Americans assume that rural communities are endangered and hanging on by a thread—suffering from outmigration, ailing schools, and overused land. But that perception is far from true in many areas. Many rural Americans work hard to sustain their communities.
Despite the massive economic and demographic impacts brought on by changes, America’s small towns continue to creatively focus on new opportunities for growth and development. Economic innovation and a focus on the cultural facets that make small towns unique, comfortable, and desirable have helped many communities create their own renaissance. The future is bright for much of rural America as small towns embrace the notion that their citizens and their cultural uniqueness are important assets.
About Museum on Main Street
Museum on Main Street (MoMS) is a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service program that teams up with state humanities councils to bring high-quality Smithsonian traveling exhibitions to museums, historical societies, and other small-town cultural venues across the country. These exhibits boost civic pride, as residents young and old, from diverse backgrounds come together to share and celebrate their heritage.