The Newberry Opera House will be hosting one of the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibits during its tour of America throughout the rest of 2018 and into 2019.

The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street, in cooperation with South Carolina Humanities, presents “Crossroads: Change in Rural America.” The exhibition will examine the evolving landscape of rural America. The exhibition opens in the lobby of the Newberry Opera House on December 16 and will remain on display through February 2.

Americans have relied on rural crossroads for generations. These places where people gather to exchange goods, services, and culture and to engage in political and community discussions that are an important part of our 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.

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

The Newberry Opera House and the surrounding community were expressly chosen by the South Carolina Humanities to host “Crossroads” as part of the Museum on Main Street program. Newberry was chosen to host this exhibit because it has maintained its rural roots since its founding in 1789.

The Smithsonian Crossroads exhibit allows the Newberry community to reflect on its history – present and future. It will bring about discussions about how Newberry has changed in response to the continued urbanization of America. Talking points in this exhibit may mention how Newberry has evolved through the years of its existence and stayed relevant thanks to new economic development and the efforts of its citizens.

Join the Newberry Opera House on December 16 at 4 pm for a free opening reception/ribbon cutting with speaker Randy Cohen of Americans for the Arts and watch the 1948 film Newberry in Color. January 22 guest author/speaker Tom Poland will lead a discussion about South Carolina’s back roads, along with a book signing at 7 pm.

The exhibition is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), SC Humanities, Wells Fargo, and Samsung. To learn more about “Crossroads” and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit

Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress. SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit

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