Smithsonian exhibit coming to Red Bay in 2013Published 6:03am Saturday, October 13, 2012
RED BAY – The city of Red Bay is known for it’s Southern small-town charm, but starting next September the city will also be known for promoting history and education across the region.
State and city officials announced on Thursday that Red Bay has been selected as one of only six towns in the state of Alabama that will have the opportunity to participate in the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) project, which is sponsored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation (AHF) and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
The Museum on Main Street project will bring a traveling Smithsonian exhibit to downtown Red Bay where it will be housed at the Weatherford Centre for six weeks starting on Sept. 14, 2013 and lasting through Oct. 25, 2013.
Red Bay will be the first stop on the tour that carries the theme of “The Way We Worked,” a theme that will showcase the roll various jobs and industries have played in shaping America into the country it has become today.
Thomas Bryant, the grants director for the Alabama Humanities Foundation, told the crowd of over 40 community members who attended the initial announcement meeting, that the purpose of the MoMS is to place an emphasis on the smaller towns in the state who might not always have access to resources such as museums and exhibits.
“We have worked with the Smithsonian for the past 12 years on the Museum on Main Street project, and it’s something that has had a positive influence on the communities who have hosted the project over the years,” Bryant said.
“The Smithsonian has scaled down some very popular exhibits so they can be placed in small towns. The exhibits include photographic panels with artifacts and audiovisual components that keep with ‘The Way We Worked’ theme.”
Bryant said one of the exciting things about the exhibit is the desire of the AHF for the host communities to partner together to provide unique programming and activities to go along with the Smithsonian exhibits that portray local history that will go along with the theme.
He said in Red Bay, the committee of city residents assembled to work on this project for the next 11 months would need to come up with ways to incorporate their own town and local history along with the exhibits.
“This is a project I really enjoy being involved with because I love to see how the towns come together to make this a great event,” Bryant said.
“Red Bay will be setting the bar for next year’s tour since this is the first stop, but with the amount of participation I’ve seen today, that bar will probably be very high.”
Red Bay resident Rosalyn Fabianke is serving as the site coordinator for the MoMS project in Red Bay.
“I am so honored that we have the opportunity to impact the entire region by bringing this exhibit to our area,” Fabianke said. “In Red Bay, we always work as a team to get things accomplished, so I have high hopes that this project will be very well-received by the public.”
Bryant pointed out that an exhibition like MoMS is an excellent way to bring tourism into the area.
The exhibit will already coordinate with the annual Red Bay Founders Festival and the school’s homecoming, but he said there were other opportunities to bring visitors in as well.
Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow pointed out the exhibit is a great opportunity for those who haven’t ever been to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. to experience it close to home.
“I think this will be something that is wonderful for the community as a whole and for all the surrounding counties in Alabama and even into Mississippi,” Morrow said, “but I also think this is a great opportunity for our students.
“What better way to get them engaged in history, both nationally and locally, than to have them come to this exhibit? This will be a great place to come for a field trip once the exhibit is up an running.”
Red Bay Mayor Bobby Forsythe said he felt privileged to have his city chosen for this project.
“What an honor to be one of only six cities in the state chosen to host this exhibit from the Smithsonian,” Forsythe said. “I know our citizens will band together to make this a great event for our city and for all the visitors we will have.”
“The doors of opportunity continue to open in Red Bay,” councilwoman Charlene Fancher added. “My mind is already turning with many ideas and the possibilities this will bring to our city.”
Councilman Brad Bolton, who also serves as president and CEO of Community Spirit Bank, said he believed the opportunity to host the exhibit was an indication of what a great town Red Bay is.
“I believe this is a testament to our city, the unity our citizens display and what we stand for and represent,” Bolton said. “I’m excited to be a part of it, to get involved with the planning, and I’m proud the bank can help by lending the Weatherford Centre for the exhibit to be housed.”
Fabianke said there will be several planning meetings planned throughout the next 11 months to organize the supplemental programming and make plans for how to incorporate local history into the exhibit.
“I’m looking forward to getting to work with these wonderful citizens of Red Bay on a project that will influence so many people.”