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Willa Cather Foundation - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE)

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Crossroads: Change in Rural America

Crossroads: Change in Rural America

Friday, February 18, 2022 - 9:00am to Thursday, March 31, 2022 - 5:00pm
Red Cloud Opera House
413 North Webster St.
Red Cloud, NE 68970
Crossroads logo

The National Willa Cather Center is excited to announce Crossroads: Change in Rural America, a Smithsonian Museums on Main Street exhibition, will be coming to our Red Cloud Opera House gallery. This insightful and beautiful exhibition speaks to our nation's rural histories . . . and to our future! In partnership with the Webster County Historical Museum, Humanities Nebraska, and Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street, Crossroads offers an in-depth look at rural American lives and invites viewers to reflect and engage with the unique opportunities and challenges presented by rural living. As a bonus, the National Willa Cather Center and the Webster County Historical Museum have teamed up to exhibit some rarely seen objects and photographs from our collections as we look at "Our Changing Main Street," and we'll host the Great Plains Mini Film Festivalwhich will screen two very different views of rural America ahead of a panel discussion, "Telling Our Stories: How Public Art Reflects and Projects Rural Lives." 

About the Crossroads exhibit:

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 moved millions of Americans into urban areas. Still, nearly 60 million Americans live in rural areas. And, since only 3.5% of the U.S. landmass is considered urban, the vast majority of the landscape remains rural.

Americans have relied on rural crossroads for generations. These places where people gather to exchange goods, services and culture and to engage in political and community discussions are an important part of our cultural fabric. The United States needs vibrant and sustainable rural communities. Americans, no matter where they live, rely on the products of the countryside (and the productivity of rural people) for food and fuel.

Crossroads: Change in Rural America offers small towns a chance to look at their own paths to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. The exhibition will prompt discussions about what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred. Despite the massive economic and demographic impacts brought on by these changes, America’s small towns creatively continue to identify 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.

Logo Panel

The exhibition is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. To learn more about “Crossroads” and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit

Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the U.S. Congress. Humanities Nebraska brings Crossroads to Nebraska with funding support from the Shoemaker Family Foundation, Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Batten Trailer Leasing, and other generous supporters. Funding has been provided to the Willa Cather Foundation from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021. NEH is committed to Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP).