Exhibit showcases stories, history at Wrather


Jordie Oetken/The News

Rachel Clifford
Contributing writer

Those interested in history and the personal stories of others can visit the Smithsonian Journey Stories exhibit, currently on display at Wrather West Kentucky Museum.

“Journey Stories is a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian,” Kate Reeves, museum director, said. “We were one of six (stops) in the state of Kentucky to get the exhibit and we are the only venue that is in western Kentucky, so we’re pretty proud of that.”

Journey Stories is an interactive historical exhibit that uses images, audio and artifacts to tell the stories of the first people who came to America, all the way up to present-day journeys.

“Journey Stories is mostly about how people came to this country, how they settled in the west and how they got from place to place,” Reeves said. “Everybody has a journey. Everybody has a story to tell about how they got from one place to another. We are a very mobile society and this is trying to make us think about that, as well as make us think about how we journey – not only where we travel, but also how we got where we are in our lives.”

Several of the stories in the exhibit have relevance to the region. “We Were Here First” is part of the exhibit that includes stories of Native American civilizations located near the Wickliffe Mounds.

Also, the “Free Land” part of the exhibit explains how land grants spawned a westward movement, bringing several people to Kentucky.

The exhibit has also made stops in Winchester, Cynthiana, Somerset, Morehead and Fort Thomas.

“We are the last stop in the state,” Reeves said. “It’ll close here on March 10 and go back to the Smithsonian to be distributed to another state.”

The exhibit was able to come to Murray State through the Smithsonian’s Museums on Main Street program.

“The Museum on Main Street program serves small town museums with the help and partnership of the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service, the Federation of State Humanities Council and state humanities councils nationwide,” Gina Winchester, executive director of Regional Outreach, said. “With the help of the Kentucky Humanities Council, a grant was awarded allowing the Smithsonian Institution’s Journey Stories exhibition to be on tour.”

Reeves said she believes the Journey Stories exhibit allows students and local residents to experience history in a new and unique way.

“A lot of people in our area have not been to the Smithsonian, so it’s a nice way to bring an exhibit like that to the area,” Reeves said. “To get a Smithsonian exhibit is very special. That doesn’t happen very often. Most of the time, smaller areas aren’t able to get these types of exhibits because they’re very costly. It’s nice to be able to host this so that students and residents from the local area can come and experience something they might not otherwise get to experience.”

Winchester said she hopes the Journey Stories exhibit will encourage an interest in learning about history.

“All individuals have a journey,” Winchester said. “This exhibition highlights the importance of these stories and visitors may take away knowledge of their own personal Journey Story and the desire to know more about it.”

The Journey Stories exhibit is on display at Wrather Museum and will close March 10.