Press Release


Exhibition on cultural history of fences and land use opens May 19.

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 Mahomet, Illinois. The exhibition will open on Friday, May 19 at the Early American Museum (600 N. Lombard, Il Rte 47), and it will remain on display until June 30.

The Exhibit Grand Opening at 7:00 PM on May 19 will feature two distinguished Illinois poets, who will discuss the topic of fences in life and literature. Lee Newton and Dave Bishop will share unique perspectives, not only on social and cultural barriers, but also on physical barriers, in an evening of poetic reflection. Lee Newton, currently an Artist in Residence with the Illinois Arts Council, is a Professor at Bradley University. He has been working locally with University High School students in Urbana on the topic of fences in literature. Dave Bishop, known as “The Prairiewriter,” is the author of A Fencerow Journal and a poetry column for Decatur Magazine. Also a Central Illinois farmer, he operates the Rural Image Press and a native prairie restoration business. In addition to viewing the exhibit, guests will have an opportunity to talk with the poets. This event is free and open to the public.

The Early American Museum will host a series of events in conjunction with the exhibition’s stay. On May 27 at 2:00 PM, Greg Koos and Mike Matejka will present “Fences of Ethnicity: The Irish and the Railroad,” a lecture followed by Irish music by Bloomsday at 3pm. On June 10 at 2:00 PM at the Canaan Academy Gymnasium in Urbana, Illinois State University (ISU) Professor Kim Pereira will discuss “August Wilson’s Fences of Race,” which will be followed by an ISU student performance co-sponsored by the local chapter of National Coucnil of Negro Women. For further details, please contact Barb Oehlschlaeger-Garvey (217) 586-2612.

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. 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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