March 2009

Working for Better Families, Schools, Libraries, Museums

The Sound of Rejoicing (Museum on Main Street)

Last week, Missourians from all over the state gathered in Kirksville to participate in the Missouri premiere of the Smithsonian Institution’s New Harmonies:  Celebrating American Roots Music exhibit.  The excitement in the air was palpable at the opening.  A year of planning and community efforts were realized as the Kirksville Arts Association unveiled their complementary exhibit showcasing their connections to roots music, enhancing the national exhibit from the Smithsonian. (Below, Kirksville Mayor Martha Rowe plays a frottoir, also known as a Zydeco rub-board.)

Martha Rowe plays a frottoir

Over the next few months, there will be a variety of programs and events taking place in Kirksville and throughout the state exploring the relationship to “roots music” in Missouri.  From Kirksville, New Harmonies will visit five additional communities in 2009.  To find out what each has planned in connection to the exhibit, be sure to visit the New Harmonies wiki page.

This week we notified a dozen Missouri towns that they can start planning for their own Smithsonian touring exhibits in 2010.   They are:

New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music

Cassville - hosted by the Barry County Museum
Hannibal - hosted by the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum
Jefferson City - hosted by the Lincoln University Library in partnership with the Cole County Historical Society
Nevada - hosted by the Vernon County Historical Society
Trenton - hosted by the Grundy County Historical Society & Museum
Unionville - hosted by the Putnam County Historical Society, Inc.

Journey Stories

Kingston - hosted by the Caldwell County Area Business Association & Foundation
Marshall - hosted by the Missouri Valley College Murrell Memorial Library
Walnut Shade - hosted by the Bonniebrook Historical Society, Inc.
Waynesville - hosted by the The Old Stagecoach Stop Foundation
Webb City - hosted by the Webb City Historical Society, the Webb City Genealogy Society, and the Friends of the Webb City Public Library
West Plains - hosted by the Harlin Museum and West Plains Council on the Arts

As we’ve seen in our decade-long partnership with the Smithsonian, Missouri's towns are extremely interested in these "Museum on Main Street" exhibits. The 40 organizations that competed for 12 opportunities to host the exhibits in 2010 far exceed the numbers in any other state.  As the Smithsonian's partner in Missouri, we work with local organizations to involve the community in program planning. Local people effectively create activities to add value to the exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution. Our central purpose is to support the development of local institutions with programming that builds sustainable success.  Our ongoing partnership with the Smithsonian through Museum on Main Street is one of the primary means for this accomplishment.

"Cutting Edge Strategies for Small Museums" Conference

Friday-Saturday, April 24-25 on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau

Do you want to create powerful memories for your visitors? Do you want to engage children and adults in ways that will bring them back time after time? Do you want to be vital partners with teachers building experiences in and out of the classroom that teach curriculum standards?

Then spend two exciting days learning about breakthrough techniques from the Conner Prairie Living History Museum and exemplary relationships with schools at the Virginia Association of Museums. You will learn practical, hands-on strategies that you can easily, effectively, and immediately implement at your museum.

Download Conference Description and Registration Form PDF

ReadMOre Presents Author Jane Smiley

Jane SmileyReadMOre is an annual book discussion event that began in the St. Louis area and is gradually expanding toward statewide scope. This year's selection is A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. Libraries are currently scheduling film and book discussions for the Spring program season, and Jane Smiley is coming to Missouri for four public appearances. All the ReadMOre activities are on a web site devoted to this program. Check the Calendar link for times and places of Jane's tour in the first week of April. The list of participating libraries is continually being updated. If your local library isn't on the list, ask them to join! The Missouri Humanities Council serves as a facilitator and founding partner with the ReadMOre steering committee.

Folk Songs and Family Life

All over the state, we're helping new parents learn how to capitalize on this simple fact: the human brain, seat of intelligence, is fully-equipped before the age of 5. What happens between birth and the start of schooling shapes that intelligence. The use of language, conversation, songs, and books can shape an imagination and form a life-long learner. Here's a wonderful piece by Julie Douglas on the importance of song lyrics in child's play.

Teachers' Institutes in Missouri This Summer

The development of teachers' mastery of humanities subject matter is one of our strategic goals. We try to affect the performance of people in the main community institutions of teaching and learning: family, school, library, and museum. This winter we've awarded grants to fund three institutes, and we're listing a third we just heard about at the National Archives in Kansas City. See all the institutes on our Teacher's Page.

Missouri's Heritage - Online

The fascinating collection of digital resources once known as "Virtually Missouri" has a new domain name at the State Library, Missouri Digital Heritage. Many new, prime collections from institutions around the state have been added to MDH over the past 11 months. Explore the treasures available on this extensive state virtual resource at the Missouri Digital Heritage site:

One impressive digital project originated at the Springfield-Greene County Library. It's a regional archiving project on the theme of "The Impact of the Civil War in the Ozarks." The report on how the library accomplished such a major service is available online at The new web site will for this project will be working by the summer. Great stuff!

Cutting-Edge Web Sites

I don't spend time surfing the web, so when someone passes on a good humanities site, I take a look. Here are three that impressed me recently.

The American Anthropological Association's site on the concept of Race.

Emory University's Carlos Museum creates interest in Ancient Greece.

UCLA's Digital Archaeology site on Karnak, in Ancient Egypt.