Press Release


Exhibition on cultural history of fences and land use opens September 17.

Special preview with local and state dignitaries will be held on September 16.

CHICAGO—Through a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C, the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) will bring “Between Fences,” a portable five-kiosk exhibition designed especially for small museums and historical societies, to Oakland, Illinois. The exhibition opens on Saturday, September 17, 2005 at 10 a.m. at the Oakland Historical Foundation (Columbian Building, 2 West Main on the Oakland Square), and will remain on display until October 28, 2005. A special preview will take place on Friday, September 16 from 7- 9 p.m. with local and state dignitaries for the entire community of Oakland.

The opening day events begin at 10:00 a.m.and will feature a keynote lecture by Dr. Nora Pat Small. Dr. Small is an Associate Professors of History at Eastern Illinois University specializing in American Architecture, Historical Preservation, and 19th-Century Social and Cultural History. She is author of Beauty and Convenience: Architecture and Order in the Early Republic .

The Oakland Historical Foundation will host a series of events in conjunction with the exhibition’s stay. Upcoming events include: a teachers and home schoolers workshop on the exhibition on October 7, from 8 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.; a “Fencing Fair” on the Oakland Square from 10 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on October 8 and “Straddling Fences: A Discussion of Public vs. Private Land Rights” at Lakecrest School from 7- 9 p.m. on October 17. All events are free and open to the public. For further details please call the Oakland Historical Foundation at (217) 346-2016.

“Between Fences” is a cultural history of fences and land use. By focusing on this dominant but often overlooked feature of the American landscape, this exhibition examines how neighbors and nations divide, protect, and define themselves through the boundaries they build. Through photographs and artifacts, “Between Fences” evokes the multiple meanings of these everyday icons, allowing audiences to investigate early settlement patterns, town architecture, transportation systems, contemporary and historical immigration, and civility among neighbors.

“Between Fences” is part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MOMs) program, a partnership between the Smithsonian and State Humanities Councils. MOMs serves the needs of small-to-medium-sized communities by bringing Smithsonian-quality exhibitions to local museums, historical societies, libraries, and community centers that traditionally have limited access to traveling exhibitions due to space and cost limitations.

Oakland is the first stop on a six-town tour for “Between Fences;” the exhibition will continue the tour through Rockton, Murphysboro, Bushnell, Mt. Vernon, and Mahomet in 2005-2006.

For more information about “Between Fences” please call (312) 422-5580 or visit

The Illinois Humanities Council is an educational organization dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Through its programs and grants, the IHC promotes greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) organization that is funded by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations; by the Illinois General Assembly; and by the NEH.


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