07 May

Bring the Smithsonian to Your Community

Kentucky Humanities invites museums, libraries, and historical societies in towns of fewer than 25,000 residents to host the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit, Americans.   

Beginning August 2025, Kentucky Humanities will bring the Smithsonian Institution's Museum on Main Street traveling exhibit, Americans, to seven Kentucky communities. 

Applications will be accepted through June 15, 2024.   

American Indian images, names, and stories infuse American history and contemporary life. 

The images are everywhere, from the Land O’Lakes butter maiden to the Cleveland Indians’ mascot, from classic Westerns and cartoons, to episodes of Seinfeld and South Park. American Indian names are everywhere too, from state, city, and street names to the Tomahawk missile. Americans highlights the ways in which American Indians have been part of the nation’s identity since before the country began. Familiar historical events of Pocahontas’s life, the Trail of Tears, and the Battle of Little Bighorn continue to speak to the imagination of many.   

How is it that American Indians can be so present and so absent in American life? Pervasive, powerful, at times demeaning, the images, names, and stories reveal the deep connection between Americans and American Indians, as well as how American Indians have been embedded in unexpected ways in the history, pop culture, and identity of the United States.

Americans surrounds visitors with images and objects from popular culture and delves into these three historical events. It invites visitors to explore this complicated history and to share local stories about Native American history and culture.  

The exhibition provides a great opportunity for host organizations to explore how the history of American Indians in their areas are incorporated into local stories. Are American Indian stories revered in your community? Or are those connections misunderstood or misused? How much of your community’s celebrated places, street names, local businesses, cultural icons and people have connections to American Indian stories? With support from state humanities councils and other state partners, Americans provides an interesting chance to generate relationships and conversations with local American Indian groups and organizations.

The modular, free-standing units require 750 square-feet of display space with 8-foot ceilings. Additional space is recommended to show local artifacts and special exhibits and storage space for 15 crates is needed. The exhibit requires a strong Wi-Fi signal to access some of the digital aspects of the exhibit. The selection committee will look at the facility as well as the host site’s plans for developing a local exhibit, humanities programs, and partnerships while hosting the exhibit.  

Kentucky Humanities will select seven communities to host the exhibit locally as part of the Museum on Main Street project – a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. Museum on Main Street is a partnership of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Federation of State Humanities Councils and state humanities councils nationwide. The United States Congress and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet provide support to the Museum on Main Street project. 

For information about Americans and to apply to host the exhibit, visit