KINGMAN - Personal stories of America's movement over the years will be coming to Kingman this month when the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street's Journey Stories Exhibit hits town.
Kingman has been chosen to host the exhibit from Sept. 28 to Nov. 10 at the Mohave Museum of History & Arts. Kingman will be the third stop in a six-stop tour of the state, which began in Winslow in June and ends in Sierra Vista in April. The exhibit has traveled the nation since 2009, visiting 100 communities in 18 states. This is its first tour in Arizona. It is coordinated by the Arizona Humanities Council.
Journey Stories consist of tales that explore how transportation and technology shaped the nation. It also examines the many different forms of movement in America, from migration to immigration to vacation. Ultimately, it asks viewers to think about their own mobility and reflect on their own journey stories.
"One of the main things to come out of this exhibit is that everyone has a journey that has changed them," said Tiffany Ruhl, curatorial assistant for the Museum on Main Street Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in Washington, D.C. "That's the story, from early colonization to immigration to today. And this is an opportunity for the people in Kingman to collect and share their stories so they can have them forever."
Ruhl said the Museum on Main Street program circulates a variety of high-quality Smithsonian exhibitions focused on American history and culture to small and rural museums, such as Kingman's, that can't afford professional exhibits. State humanities councils help prepare local events to go along with the exhibition. Ruhl said the result is increased museum visibility and attendance, professional training for museum employees and improvements to the host facilities.
And not only does Journey Stories present national stories in freestanding exhibits that visitors can view, it also gives local residents a chance to tell stories that are dear to them. A variety of presentations will be offered during the event, including the history of Kingman, the Santa Fe Railroad's impact on the city, Route 66 and its travelers, Kingman's Harvey House, Kingman Army Air Field and how the state's population has changed over the years.
"These are tales of how our ancestors came to America and how Kingman developed," said Joshua Noble, executive director of tourism for the Kingman Visitor Center. "I think this is a pretty big deal for Kingman. I think it will help bring tourism to town. And I think that seeing these stories will be beneficial to the people around here. Everyone has a story to tell."
The exhibition opens on Sept. 28, the same day 5,000 spectators are anticipated downtown for the Andy Devine Days Parade. A variety of related events are planned during the time the exhibition remains in Kingman, from a quilt display and railroad open house to a presentation on Route 66, an ice cream social and block party and an open house at the Kingman Army Air Field base at Kingman Industrial Park.
From Sept. 28 to Oct. 11, the Mohave Museum of History & Arts will host Pioneer Days - Ranching and Mining with a display of Journey Stories quilts by the Kingman Quilters Guild in the main show room. The quilts will tell the colorful history of American quilting, with examples of popular quilts from seven eras. Also, the quilts will depict the guild members' individual journeys in life, as well as the history of transportation in Mohave County.
The Kingman Railroad Museum will host an open house Oct. 13 that will include a presentation on travel by rail. And because the impact of Route 66 on Kingman has been so strong, the city is celebrating from Oct. 19 to Nov. 2, beginning with a presentation on its history and an ice cream social at the Chillin' on Beale Street block party in downtown Kingman.
Finally, the Kingman Army Air Field Museum will host an open house Nov. 2 featuring a variety of World War II memorabilia.
Local and regional speakers will enlighten visitors during the exhibition, beginning with Mohave County historian and author Dan Messersmith. He will introduce visitors to the Journey Stories exhibit and talk about the city's history on opening day. On Oct. 11, Jay Cravath, author of "Along the California Trail," will discuss an ancient set of Native American paths along the Gila River that served as a major artery for travel through Arizona.
Roy Purcell, a Southwestern artist and former director of the museum and the Southern Nevada Museum in Henderson, Nev., will give a guided tour Oct. 12 of the Mohave Epic exhibit he created at the museum nearly 50 years ago. And on Oct. 13, David Bacon, curator of the Kingman Railroad Museum, will cover the history of the Santa Fe Railroad and how it affected Kingman.
Ann-Mary Lutzick, director of the Old Trails Museum in Winslow and author of "Harvey Girls of the Southwest," will speak Oct. 19 about the Fred Harvey Company, which operated a chain of restaurants and hotels along the railway from 1876 through the 1950s and hired more than 100,000 "Harvey Girl" waitresses. Kingman's Harvey House was located across Fourth Street from the railroad depot until the mid-'50s, when it caught fire and was torn down.
Route 66 will get its share of attention Oct. 19 when local historian and author Jim Hinckley discusses the passion for the Mother Road and the people and vehicles traveling it. Another Route 66 author, John Craft, a professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will discuss his book, "Along Old Route 66." His talk Oct. 24 includes footage from two television documentaries produced in Arizona and broadcast nationally.
Rob Chilcoat, historian and curator of the Kingman Army Air Field Museum, will explain the history of the former gunnery school Nov. 5 and how it evolved during World War II. And on Nov. 7, Elizabeth Larson, lecturer at the School of Geographical Sciences at Arizona State University, will discuss the state's changing demography and future growth.
An educator's workshop is scheduled for Sept. 21 to help teachers prepare their students for the exhibition. It is open to all educators and provides three professional development hours. Curriculum highlights are "What's New in the Old Neighborhood?" for fourth and fifth grades, "In the Shadow of the Homestead Act" for seventh graders and "Connecting People's Movement" for high schoolers.
To register, call Whitney Klotz, Arizona Humanities Council, at (602) 257-0335 or email email@example.com.
Visit gokingman.com/journeystories for more information about Kingman's Journey Stories exhibition, including updates and schedules.
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