Press Release


CHICAGO – Through a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Illinois Humanities Council is bringing New Harmonies,” a portable five-kiosk display designed especially for small museums and historical societies, to Mendota, Illinois in November 2006. “New Harmonies” will also have engagements at the Carbondale Community Arts (Carbondale), theMacon County Conservation District (Macon County), theGalena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society & Museum (Galena), the Dickson Mounds Museum (Lewistown), and the Friends of the Jasper County Museum (Newton) from March 2007 through January 2008.

New Harmonies” is a cultural history of America’s musical landscape. The exhibition is the story of a diverse assortment of people interacting with a New World, a world where cultures and customs met, mixed, and mingled and created new sounds. The distinct cultural identities of all of these peoples are carried in song — both sacred and secular — and the music that emerges is known by names like blues, country, western, folk, jazz, and gospel. This exhibition tracks the unique history of many peoples reshaping each other into one incredibly diverse and complex people — Americans. It also promises a fascinating, inspiring, and toe-tapping listen to the American story of cultural exchange with its multi-media components. As a unique traveling exhibition, it is full of surprises about familiar songs, histories of instruments, the roles of religion and technology in shaping new sounds, and the continuity of musical roots from the colonial period to modern day punk and hip-hop.

New Harmonies” is part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program. MoMS serves small-to medium-sized communities with populations of less than 25,000 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. Each exhibition consists of five free-standing structures that contain interactive components and artifacts. In addition to the resources provided by MOMs, each host community will add elements to their installation of the exhibit and produce a series of local programs related to the exhibitions’ themes.

For more information about the MoMS program, contact Ryan Lewis at 312.422.5585 ext 231 or via email at Information about the program may also be obtained by visiting

The Illinois Humanities Council is a nonprofit educational organization [501 (c) 3] dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Organized in 1973 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.


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