Press Release


This Smithsonian exhibition explores the history of America’s musical landscape.

CHICAGO – The Illinois Humanities Council is pleased to announce the opening of “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music,” a traveling exhibition of the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution at the Western Illinois Museum (201 S. Lafayette St, Macomb). This exhibit will be in Macomb from October 23 to December 5, 2010. Viewing hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.. Admission is free and open to the public. Donations are appreciated.

The Opening Ceremony will be on Saturday, October 23rd at the West Central Illinois Arts Center (25 E Side Sq, Macomb) and will begin at 6:30p.m.. Chris Vallillo, folk musician and Illinois State Scholar for this project, will be featured in a performance during the ceremony, which will be free and open to the public.  An  8:00pm reception and exhibition will follow at the permanent location at Western Illinois Museum.

For more information on the exhibit and other public programs, contact the Western Illinois Museum at 309.837.2750.


“New Harmonies” is a cultural history of America’s musical landscape. It’s 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. As a unique traveling, multimedia 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 rock and hip-hop.                         

“New Harmonies” is part of the Illinois Humanities Council’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program, a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and state humanities councils nationwide. MoMS serves small-to medium-sized communities by bringing Smithsonian-quality exhibitions to local museums, historical societies, libraries, and community centers around the country. In addition to the resources provided by the program, each host community adds elements to their installation of the exhibit and produces a series of local programs related to the exhibition’s themes.

For more information about Museum on Main Street, contact Ryan Lewis at 312.422.5585 x231 or via email at Information about the program can also be found online at


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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