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NC Humanities Seeking Six Communities to Host the Smithsonian Exhibit “Spark! Places of Innovation”

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The Smithsonian is coming to North Carolina! North Carolina Humanities is now accepting applications from communities to participate in the 2025-2026 statewide tour of Spark! Places of Innovation, a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution.

North Carolina Humanities is seeking six communities in North Carolina to host Spark! Places of Innovation during this traveling statewide tour, May 2025- April 2026. Museums, libraries, community venues, and other eligible nonprofit organizations are invited to apply. Priority will be given to small-town and rural applicants. Applications are due September 26, 2024. Organizations that wish to apply to host Spark! Places of Innovation are encouraged to review North Carolina Humanities’ website for full details.

Please join us for one of our informational webinars where you will learn about the exhibition, the venue requirements, how to apply, and more. There is also plenty of time to ask questions. 

Selected host sites will receive the Spark! Places of Innovation exhibition for approximately six weeks, rent-free. They will also receive up to $5,000 in grant funding to support the design and implementation of public programs, events, companion exhibits, and resources that enhance the exhibition’s themes. Programming may occur before, during, and/or after the exhibition and should be free and open to the public.

The story of human history is written in inventions and innovations. Spark! Places of Innovation explores the unique combination of places, people, and circumstances that sparks innovation and invention in rural communities. Inspired by an exhibition by the National Museum of American History, the exhibition features stories gathered from diverse communities across the nation. Visitors will be inspired to learn about how innovation has shaped their own communities and how they may be innovators themselves. Photographs, engaging interactives, objects, videos, and augmented reality bring a multilayered experience to reveal the leaders, challenges, successes, and future of innovation across the nation.

Spark! Places of Innovation is part of Museum on Main Street (MoMS), a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. North Carolina Humanities has worked with SITES for nearly 15 years to bring MoMS exhibitions to North Carolina’s small towns and rural communities. North Carolina Humanities’ latest MoMS tour is Voices & Votes: Democracy in America, which is currently touring throughout North Carolina in 2024-2025. Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress.

About North Carolina Humanities: Through public humanities programs and grantmaking, North Carolina Humanities connects North Carolinians with cultural experiences that spur dialogue, deepen human connections, and inspire community.