Durand to host Smithsonian traveling exhibit celebrating rural innovation December 2 - January 6

Press Releases
Illinois Humanities

Read Time 4 minutes
November 16, 2023

For Immediate Release   

Sarah Sommers
Phone: (773) 251 - 4772
Email: communications@ilhumanities.org

The national exhibition will be accompanied by a locally-produced companion exhibit.

CHICAGO, NOVEMBER 16, 2023Illinois Humanities is pleased to announce that Durand 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 hosted by Durand Charm at Durand Masonic Lodge #302 from December 2, 2023 - January 6, 2024.

As a companion to the Spark! exhibition in Durand, Durand Charm is producing an exhibit highlighting the Durand Fire Department. Following multiple fires in the late 1800s and early 1900s in the town's business core, a volunteer fire department was created in Durand. They became the first municipal volunteer fire department in Illinois, sporting District #1 on their fire engine. Included in this exhibit will be the department's original 1926 Peter Pirsch fire engine.

In addition to the companion exhibit, Durand Charm will host an exciting slate of events throughout Spark!’s stop in Durand, including two free events featuring 2023-24 Illinois Road Scholars celebrating the history of small, rural towns as centers of industry, innovation, and resilience. The first, on December 5, 7:00 p.m., will feature Road Scholar Norman Moline’s presentation, A Quality Place on the Map: The Goal of Small Towns. On December 12, 7:00 p.m., Road Scholar Cynthia Clampitt will present, How Corn Changed Itself and Then Changed Everything Else. Both programs will take place at the Fire Station and will offer free refreshments.

In the holiday spirit, Santa will visit Spark! on December 9 and 16, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Visitors will have a chance to explore both the Smithsonian national exhibition and the Durand companion exhibit, as well as take pictures with Santa on the historic fire engine. While in Durand, visitors are also encouraged to attend the Youth and Innovation Project Competition at Durand High School on December 7, 7:00 p.m. Government and English students will compete with their own innovative projects for cash prizes determined by a panel of celebrity judges.

Spark! Places of Innovation will be at the Durand Masonic Lodge #302, 420 North Center Street, Durand, IL, December 2 - January 6. Please note that the exhibit will be closed Saturday, December 23 - Monday, December 25, 2023, Sunday, December 31, 2023, and Monday, January 1, 2024. 

The exhibition will continue its Illinois tour through spring 2024, with upcoming stops in Havana and Marshall in 2024. 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.


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.


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.