26 Apr

Kentucky Humanities Now Accepting Applications to Host Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit

Kentucky Humanities invites museums, libraries, and historical societies in towns of fewer than 20,000 residents to host the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit, Spark! Places of Innovation.   

Beginning June 2023, Kentucky Humanities will bring the Smithsonian Institution's Museum on Main Street traveling exhibit, Spark! Places of Innovation, to six Kentucky communities. 

Applications will be accepted through May 31, 2022.   

Spark! Places of Innovation will highlight innovation in rural America from the perspective of the people who lived it! Their words, images, and experiences gathered through an ambitious crowdsourcing initiative will be the heartbeat of the exhibition. Technical, social, cultural, artistic, or a combination of all of these — every innovation is as unique as each community. Explore the diversity, ingenuity, and tenacity of rural Americans in Spark! Places of Innovation.

Spark! Places of Innovation explores the unique combination of places, people, and circumstances that sparks innovation and invention in rural communities. Inspired by an exhibition by the National Museum of American History, the exhibition features stories gathered from diverse communities across the nation. Photographs, engaging interactives, objects, videos, and augmented reality bring a multilayered experience to reveal the leaders, challenges, successes, and future of innovation in each town. 

Spark! Places of Innovation will be the springboard for diverse local programming in the humanities, sciences, and arts. Visitors will be inspired to learn about innovation has shaped their own communities and how they may be innovators themselves. Community members will come together in conversation about their history, present, and future. 

This exhibition will explore questions such as:

• What is the role of creative thinkers and inventors in a town?

• What resources do towns have for innovation and invention?

• How important is the role of self-expression and openness to change?

• How does a place encourage risk-taking?

• How can diversity spark innovation? 

The modular, free-standing units require 650 square-feet of display space with 8-foot ceilings.  Additional space is recommended to show local artifacts and special exhibits and storage space for 20 crates is needed. 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 six 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 Spark! Places of Innovation and to apply to host the exhibit, visit