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Barn Again! Celebrating an American Icon

Barn Again! gave exhibition visitors new ways to consider a familiar icon. Using farm architecture and its adaptations, the exhibition explored agricultural changes and major movements in American history such as 19th century European immigration, westward migration, and the rise of large-scale, industrial farming in the 20th century. Panels, photographs, and artifacts, including an architectural scale model of an English barn, examples of nails, roofing and a mortise and tenon joint illustrate this agricultural history.

Even as barns disappear from the countryside, their iconic role in American culture remains constant. Advertising and industry professionals, politicians and artists frequently use barn imagery to convey American values such as dependability, hard work, independence and traditionalism. The exhibit presents popular culture objects such as toys, videos, books, plates, jewelry, lunch boxes, and food packaging showing this potency of the barn image in our daily lives.

Tennessee Barn Again! hosts were selected in part for the stories they told about their region's rural history and culture. Some of these communities and other groups across the state worked with the Tennessee Century Farms Program to increase awareness of and celebrate the heritage of the Century Farms in their area.

The Butler Ruritan and Watauga Academy Alumni Associations joined together to build a community museum near Watauga Lake in Northeast Tennessee. Their companion exhibit grew out of oral history surveys from residents of "Old Butler" and discussed the sense of community in this town that was relocated when the Tennessee Valley Authority constructed Watauga Dam. Read an article about the communities of "Old Butler" telling their own stories after being flooded by the TVA.

The Ocoee Whitewater Center worked with historical societies, museums and public schools in the Ducktown-Copperhill area to develop a companion exhibit for Barn Again! that focused on Native American agricultural heritage. Find out more about Cherokee agricultural traditions.

The Concerned Citizens of Douglass researched and produced a companion exhibit, A Piece of the Pie: an African American Farming Community, which explored the local pattern of African American land ownership, and social and political culture from 1870–1940. This community group hosted the exhibits at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in nearby Brownsville. Read more about the history of African American land ownership in Haywood County

The Marshall County Museum in Lewisburg involved school children and teachers throughout the county in a study of the county's unique agricultural heritage and the century-old farms in their area. Learn how barns fit into the rich traditions of life in Marshall County.

Barn Again! completed its ten-month tour of Tennessee in the library museum of the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Barn Again! Celebrating an American Icon, Bibliography