“Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” a traveling exhibit sponsored by the Smithsonian Museum, is on display at Paducah’s River Discovery Center. The exhibit examines the evolving landscape of rural America and is sponsored by the Kentucky Humanities Council.

The exhibit is open through Saturday, Feb. 13, and can be viewed 9:30 a.m until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with last entry at 4 p.m. While there is no fee to view the Smithsonian exhibit, there is an admission fee to see River Discovery Center’s exhibits.

The River Discovery Center follows Kentucky COVID guidelines, limiting entry to accommodate social distancing. Masks are also required.

“Crossroads” explores how rural American communities changed in the 20th century. From sea to shining sea, the vast majority of the United States landscape remains rural with only 3.5% of the landmass considered urban. Since 1900, the percentage of Americans living in rural areas dropped from 60% to 17%. The exhibition looks at that societal change and how rural Americans responded.

“ ‘Crossroads’ allows us to reflect on Paducah history, present and future, and we are excited to explore what the future may hold for our community,” said Julie Harris, executive director of the River Discovery Center. “We want to convene conversations about what makes our community unique and have developed local exhibitions and public programs to complement the Smithsonian exhibition.”

Designed for small-town museums, libraries and cultural organizations, “Crossroads” serves as a community meeting place for conversations about how rural America has changed. With the support and guidance of state humanities councils, communities have the opportunity to develop complementary exhibits, host public programs and facilitate educational initiatives to raise people’s understanding about their own history, the joys and challenges of living rural, how change has impacted their community and prompt discussion of goals for the future.

“Americans have relied on rural crossroads for generations,” Harris said. “These places where people gather to exchange goods, services and culture and to engage in political and community discussions are an important part of the cultural fabric. Despite the massive economic and demographic impacts brought on by these changes, America’s small towns continue to creatively focus on new opportunities for growth and development.”

The River Discovery Center is located at 117 S. Water St. in Paducah. For more information, call 270-575-9958 or visit www.riverdiscoverycenter.org.

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