Chicago, April 27, 2022 – Illinois Humanities is excited to announce that the Havana Area Chamber of Commerce is one of seven small community cultural organizations in Illinois selected to host Spark! Places of Innovation, a new traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution. Spark! will be at the Havana City Center from January 13, 2024 to February 17, 2024, and will feature a schedule of hours that visitors may explore the exhibit.
Spark! will highlight innovation in rural America from the perspectives of people who have lived it. Spark! features stories from communities throughout the United States – including several small towns in Illinois – that have enhanced their vitality through advances in fields such as the arts, education, technology, agriculture, and economic development.
The 2023-24 tour is part of Illinois Humanities’ Museum on Main Street, a program conducted in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution specifically to support cultural organizations in small communities. Each host organization produces a companion exhibit with a unique programming that connects local history and culture to the exhibit themes.
The Havana Area Chamber of Commerce will work together in partnership with the City of Havana, utilizing their Havana City Center, Havana Public Library, the Mason County Historical and Genealogical Society, Havana Community Unit 126 School District, Spoon River College and other local organizations and volunteers to create the Havana Exhibit to be displayed alongside the Smithsonian Exhibition. During the five-week timeframe that Havana will host the exhibit, there will be regular hours for viewing the exhibitions and field trips and group trips are also encouraged. Havana Chamber President April Burgett said “It was my great pleasure to throw this idea out to our community and upon receiving feedback that folks were interested in volunteering and serving on a committee to pull it off if we were selected as a host city, the Chamber Board decided to go for it. This is a very competitive process with two rounds of applications and a vetting process. We are overjoyed that we were selected as a host city!”
Representatives from the Havana Area Chamber of Commerce will attend a kick off workshop in July and then will work with representatives from the Illinois Humanities and the Smithsonian to develop the companion Havana Exhibition over a one year time period that will be displayed in tandem with the Spark! Places of Innovation exhibition. Burgett also noted: “We have been very creative and innovative in our approach to re-invigorating and revitalizing our small town and its pretty fabulous that we will get to showcase that. We also have a rich and unique history here in Havana and a great story to tell. The full Havana exhibition will take shape during the next year and a half and it will be an exciting process! It will garner a lot of media attention and draw in large numbers of visitors and will be a great honor to feature a Smithsonian Exhibit in Havana, Illinois!”
Five of the organizations that will host Spark! Places of Innovation are based in communities that will be featured in the exhibition: Equality, Hillsboro, Rushville, Marshall and Chatsworth, which will be collaborating with organizations in nearby Fairbury, another featured community.
“We received an outstanding pool of applications, and the communities chosen to host Spark! should be very proud. We’re excited to amplify the work of our partners, and we are eager to see how they bring this exhibit to life through their own communities’ stories of innovation,” said Illinois Humanities Executive Director Gabrielle Lyon.