Museum on Main Street (MoMS) is a program of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in partnership with state humanities councils. SITES develops high quality and mobile humanities exhibitions. Humanities councils develop traveling exhibit tour projects in their states and support educational events at local levels. The targeted exhibit venues are small or emerging, pre-professional, rural or underserved cultural organizations.
Since 1999 Humanities Tennessee has presented seven traveling exhibits including:
The Way We Worked (2011-2012, 2015)
Journey Stories (2010–2011)
New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music (2008)
Between Fences (2006–2007)
Key Ingredients: America by Food (2004–2005)
Produce for Victory: Posters on the American Home Front, 1941–1945(2001–2002)
Barn Again! Celebrating an American Icon (1999–2000)
The genius of MoMS is how it allows SITES and humanities councils to share their years of exhibition and programmatic expertise with many under-served communities across America. The MoMS exhibition projects in Tennessee have resulted in professional development, new local partnerships, and even cultural tourism initiatives. The tours have also included many public humanities programs such as companion exhibitions and oral history projects. These activities may garner financial support from Humanities Tennessee, but local philanthropy, fundraising and volunteerism are evidenced by the community-based activities that occur during the exhibition. For example, Produce for Victory hosts held USO dances and "Rosie the Riveter" look-a-like contests, Key Ingredients hosts held community-wide cook-offs, local recipe collections, and potluck dinners, and New Harmonies yielded concerts and music festivals across the state.
In addition to receiving a slot on the exhibition tour, participating organizations receive publicity kits, educational programming guides, and exhibition materials. Partnering with Humanities Tennessee also provides host sites with opportunities for professional, programming, and institutional development, and for making lasting connections with peers and other resources across the state.
Humanities Tennessee provides each host organization with:
an organizational assessment by an experienced museum assessor;
training to develop interpretive exhibits about local history;
funding for companion programs;
a free Program Bureau based on exhibit themes;
and scholarships to attend the annual Tennessee Association of Museums conference.
Tennessee exhibition hosts have successfully used the opportunities and resources connected to the MoMS collaboration to produce an astonishing array of public programs and to foster lasting institutional advancement — making key improvements to their facilities, ongoing operations, programming, and community visibility.