Press Release

Chatsworth to host Smithsonian traveling exhibit celebrating rural innovation September 9 – October 14

Chatsworth is one of the seven Illinois towns featured in the national exhibition.

CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 6, 2023Illinois Humanities is pleased to announce that Chatsworth will be the next Illinois town to host Spark! Places of Innovation, the newest traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program. Spark! will be at the Central Illinois Connection Center from September 9 – October 14. On Opening Day, Chatsworth (population 1,200) will host a day full of family-friendly events to celebrate the town’s culture, history, and spotlight in the nationally touring exhibition. Chatsworth is one of the seven Illinois towns featured in Spark! for its spirit of innovation, alongside Equality and Hillsboro – previous stops on the Illinois tour – Rushville, Marshall, Atlanta, and Chatsworth’s close neighbor Fairbury.

In addition to Opening Day events, the exhibition will be available for school tours and field trips, providing an opportunity for students to learn about history local to the region and the great strides made through rural innovation across America.

Community Connection of Central Illinois is hosting Spark! alongside a companion exhibit that highlights local relief efforts that took place following a devastating train disaster in
Chatsworth in 1887. In the wake of immense tragedy, the small town’s residents came together to provide the victims with crucial aid. This neighborly generosity has been fundamental to Chatsworth throughout history and continues today.

Spark!‘s Grand Opening at the Center will take place September 9, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. CST. Chatsworth Mayor Richard Runyon will be in attendance for a ribbon cutting to open the exhibition, accompanying a performance by the Orpheus Mandolin Orchestra. Other museums local to Chatsworth – such as the Chatsworth Historical Society – will host performances and presentations throughout the day to celebrate the exhibition. These events are free, and guests of all ages are invited to join and enjoy the town’s rich cultural offerings.

Spark! Places of Innovation will be at the Central Illinois Connection Center, 404-408 East Locust Street, Chatsworth, IL, September 9 – October 14. For information on exhibition hours, tours, and local events, please call (815) 848-6246.

The exhibition will continue its Illinois tour through spring 2024, with upcoming stops in Rushville, Durand, Havana, and Marshall. Illinois Humanities partners with the Smithsonian to bring world-class, multimedia Smithsonian exhibitions to small towns and rural communities in Illinois. Through partnerships with organizations local to each community, every tour stop will showcase the town’s homegrown stories, local events, and history.

Exhibition Schedule


About Illinois Humanities

Illinois Humanities, the Illinois affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a statewide nonprofit organization that activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. We provide free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois, particularly for communities of color, individuals living on low incomes, counties and towns in rural areas, small arts and cultural organizations, and communities highly impacted by mass incarceration. Founded in 1974, Illinois Humanities is supported by state, federal, and private funds. Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn @ILHumanities.

About Museum on Main Street

Museum on Main Street is a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and state humanities councils, including Illinois Humanities. It not only enables Illinoisans to experience Smithsonian-produced exhibitions in their own communities but also gives the local cultural organizations that host these exhibitions opportunities to enhance their roles within their communities and regions, attract new audiences and volunteers, expand their knowledge and resource bases, and develop skills that can be applied toward future exhibitions and programs.