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The "Crossroads" exhibit opens Saturday at the Atlanta Museum.

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Public Library District will host the exhibit, "Crossroads: Change in Rural America" that will open Saturday at the Atlanta Museum.

The district/museum was selected last year as one of six organizations in Illinois to display the exhibit produced by the Smithsonian Institution.

The exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and from noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays through March 16, and by appointment.

The museum also will organize guided group outings upon request. More information is available by calling the library 217-648-2112.

Gold sponsors of the Crossroads exhibit include the Smithsonian, Illinois Humanities, and the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation. Lead sponsors are the Atlanta Betterment Fund, Atlanta National Bank, Gary Gemberling, and David Kindred. A number of local donors also have provided funding and in-ind support for the project.

In conjunction with the Crossroads exhibit —  coordinated by Illinois Humanities in partnership with the Smithsonian — the Atlanta Museum will unveil a new companion exhibit, "Classrooms and Community: Changes in Rural America’s Sense of Community."

This exhibit will examine the impact of the development from one-room rural schools to the larger consolidated Olympia school district. Based on a series of oral interviews conducted in 2018, the exhibit is rooted in an exploration of how a sense of place, common memories, and shared values combine to enliven the school experience and shape a community’s perception of itself.

Also on Saturday, the Library District will unveil a new community mural in its Union Hall Visitors Welcome Center and mount an exhibit of artwork by students of Olympia High School. The mural celebrates the rural community of Atlanta — its history, dreams and visions for the future. The art show is designed to capture the themes of the Smithsonian exhibit.

The Crossroads exhibit describes the views of various cultural communities regarding the use and management of land, and examines the role of land in the formation of local economies. It also discusses the emergence of rural communities and the evolution of their economic and social structures, especially during the period of rapid change in the mid-20th century.

And, it explores ways in which rural communities are responding effectively to challenges in the 21st century and invites communities to contemplate their own potential paths into the future.

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