Owensboro Science and History Museum was chosen to partner with the Smithsonian Institution to bring “Spark! Places for Innovation” to showcase new ways for innovation in rural America and small towns.
Executive Director of the Museum Kathy Olson said the temporary exhibit will be spread throughout their open space on the first floor. It will be stationed in Owensboro from October 21 to November 25 before they transition it to another location.
The exhibition features stories and images from over 30 communities nationwide gathered through a crowdsourcing initiative. These places of innovation examined their existing assets, characteristics, people, resources, and history to tackle the challenges of today with creative solutions and chart new directions for their future.
The innovations that are on display range in their medium.
“Innovation is in all forms, whether artistic, social, technical or scientific. It doesn’t matter, but the catalyst and the inspirations for those are all around us and in their interesting ways that people can promote a culture of innovation and curiosity, which speaks to that,” Olson said.
She said the exhibit’s purpose is to inspire the community to find a way to contribute to tomorrow’s innovations. To do this, she said they are partnering with Owensboro Innovation Academy to begin brainstorming new projects in addition to those already on display.
Olson notes that they had several ideas from the students, but a common theme they found through the project was addressing mental health.
Added to the project, she said there was funding allocated for a videographer to document and showcase the brainstorming process at the exhibit. After noticing the theme, Olson said they began partnering with River Valley Behavioral Health.
“They actually worked with River Valley to get trained on some ways to mentor middle school students concerned about entering high school and just helping with that transition. They’re right near the middle of the middle school, and they could work with them,” Olson said.
The display will have an audio and visual component, allowing for different interactions like Wi-Fi accessibility and other mediums.
Olson said the exhibit will have a mix of everything for someone to enjoy, from adults to young students.
The exhibit will be on display during usual business hours — Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.
The Kentucky Humanities and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services collaborated on the project. Spark! was inspired by Places of Invention, an exhibition developed by the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.
To learn more about Spark! Places of Innovation and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, click here.