Museum on Main Street

The mission of Museum on Main Street is to provide access to the Smithsonian for small-town America. Museum on Main Street engages small-town audiences and brings attention to underserved rural communities.

To build grassroots participation, Museum on Main Street works with state humanities councils and more than 1,400 institutions in rural towns across the nation. For these communities (with an average population of 8,000), the opportunity to work with the Smithsonian is much more than a quality educational experience. Through community programs and creative activities, Museum on Main Street exhibitions and research are a launching point for storytelling and local pride. Constantly evolving digital projects, such as the Stories from Main Street collecting portal and the digital student history initiative, are bringing more of the Smithsonian’s resources to people in small towns across the nation.

According to the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) website, their exhibitions and resources have traveled to nearly 1400 towns with populations of 500 to 20,000 across the country. What started with a 1991 survey of small cultural institutions has morphed into an ongoing collaboration with the Smithsonian that developed into Museum on Main Street.

The first MoMS exhibit, Produce for Victory, launched in September 1994. Water/Ways is the 10th exhibition specifically developed for small-town America. Arizona Humanities has hosted three previous MoMS exhibits: Journey Stories (2013-2014), Key Ingredients (2010-2011), and Between Fences.

Learn more at:

Old Trails Museum Journey Stories Opening
Key Ingredients exhibit opening in Ajo
Between Fences opening in Nogales
What does Museum on Main Street Do?

Smithsonian research, exhibitions, and expertise with rural Americans


Community revitalization and pride in local towns across America


Museums in small towns to make lasting technical advancements


Interest in American history at the local and national levels

Collect, Curate, Share

stories, photos, and videos about life in rural America

Provide Resources

for cultural professionals and museum staff