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DOVER — The Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village will host “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” a Smithsonian Institution Museum on Main Street traveling exhibit, from …
DOVER — The Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village will host “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” a Smithsonian Institution Museum on Main Street traveling exhibit, from Saturday through April 15.
The nationwide “Crossroads” exhibit offers both rural and urban dwellers the opportunity to look back at their own history and to consider the changes that affected their lives and fortunes over the past century, a time when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population.
In Delaware, the history of agricultural life is one of success achieved through resiliency and successfully managing change. Prime among those changes was the completion of the DuPont Highway and the emergence of the poultry business, both occurring in 1923. The highway allowed farmers to move their products faster and more cheaply and the poultry business spurred increased production of and profit from the crops needed to feed the chickens.
As advances in agriculture changed the face of rural life in America over the past century, the rural way of living in Delaware adapted to those changes to ensure the continued success of its agricultural enterprises and the vitality of its rural life.
Today, agriculture remains the mainstay of Delaware’s economy in terms of productivity growth, with almost 40% of the state’s land devoted to agricultural production.
This important story of life in rural Delaware will be told as a companion piece to the “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” exhibit, through narrative panels and video presentations focusing on the prototypical small town of Woodside, Delaware. It’s a town that’s representative of the ways so many small towns of Delaware adapted to the changes of American agriculture predominantly through the expansion of the Delaware railroad to accommodate farmers in transporting their products to new markets throughout the eastern seaboard.
As the focal point of the exhibit, Woodside farming, then and now, will give a vivid portrayal of rural life in this segment of America.
As fortune would have it, the “Crossroads” exhibit serves as a fitting complement to the Agriculture Museum’s current exhibit, “One Day the Lights Came On,” which explores the impact of rural electrification on Delaware from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Electric power profoundly transformed Delaware agriculture and rural life through a host of time and labor-saving innovations such as electric milking machines and water pumps outside the house and electric lights and kitchen appliances inside.
Both of these exhibits segue quite nicely into another major exhibit “Delmarvelous Poultry” soon to open at the Agriculture Museum, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the poultry industry in Delaware and the groundbreaking role played by Sussex County’s Cecile Long Steele.
Taken as a whole, these three exhibits will provide a fitting tribute to the men and women who were the backbone of Delaware’s vibrant rural communities and agricultural economy.
“Crossroads: Change in Rural America” has been made possible at the Delaware Agricultural Museum by the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street and Delaware Humanities.
For exhibit hours and information, visit here.