Smithsonian exhibit heading to Roanoke

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, September 26, 2023

An exhibit from the Smithsonian is coming to the Annie L. Awbrey Library in Roanoke, Alabama, in December to tell the story of the history of rural towns in America and their evolution.

Crossroads: Change in Rural America is a Museum on Main Street (MoMS) traveling exhibition, which is touring many museums and libraries in cities across the country. The exhibition gives a glimpse into the economic impact of people moving into urban areas.

“What we’re trying to do is get people who are in the younger communities to look at what all was around us and decide and imagine what they can do because they’re going to be the next generation to do something with it,” said Margaret Calhoun, Annie L. Awbrey Library Director.

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The exhibition is meant to prompt discussions on “what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred,” according to the Alabama Historical Alliance website.

From Dec. 18 to Feb. 2, the Awbrey Library will host the exhibition during normal business hours, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The exhibition is photography-driven. There will be rural farm machinations and an era-specific radio on display. There will also likely be local artifacts added to the exhibit from Roanoke’s history.

Some of the possible local historical artifacts include the Ella Smith “Indestructible Doll,” an invention of Ella Gauntt Smith from Langdale. They also have some pottery that was manufactured in the area.

The library is working with the Randolph County Historical Museum, Main Street Committee and Handley High School Community Studies Class and School Career Development Center.

Calhoun said that she hopes the exhibit will prompt a change in her local community.

“We have a museum that has been shuttered and closed for about three years now,” Calhoun said. “And I felt like if people could see a museum exhibit, they would feel prompted to work more fervently to restore our museum and the condition of the building.”