THREE RIVERS, Mich. (WOOD) — A part of the Smithsonian exhibit is coming to West Michigan this summer.
The traveling exhibit, which explores innovations that have come out of rural communities, is new and the library is only its second stop in Michigan. According to the Smithsonian website, it will be touring the country through 2029.
“The focus of this one is rural innovation. So small areas like ours, rural communities like ours and all the amazing things that we bring to the table,” Bobbi Schoon, the library director, said.
She said the library is also putting together a wraparound exhibit that will showcase innovations from Three Rivers.
“I’ve lived in this area basically my whole entire life,” she said. “I’m learning new and amazing things that came from here.”
She said the man who helped co-create tandem skydiving was born in raised in Three Rivers. The exhibit will have his medals on display and a photo of him tandem skydiving with his aunt.
“His legacy lives on,” Schoon said.
The library will also have a velocipede, a type of railway handcar, on display. The man who invented it was from Three Rivers, and created it to get to work before starting a company in the community to manufacture them.
The Smithsonian portion of the exhibit will be on display in the children’s program room, while the library’s wraparound display will be in the room next to it.
Throughout the library, patrons will be able to find other pieces of history: The St. Joseph County Historical Society is contributing historical photos that will be on display throughout the library, and the local fire department loaned some items to teach about the history of firefighting in the area.
The exhibit has continued to expand as the library has worked to put it together. There are now more than 40 organizations partnering with the library. Some will help with programming running alongside the exhibit, like a “Suds and Civilization” adults-only talk that will take place at a local brewery. There, people can learn about the history of beer, wine and distilled spirits.
Everyone is invited to come check out Spark! Places of Innovation for free.
“They don’t have to be from the Three Rivers area to come see this. We want everybody from around here to come and see,” Schoon said.
She said she hopes it will inspire people.
“… Look at the cool things from history, look at cool things that we know people are doing today,” Schoon said. “What does that spark in you? What kind of things does that make you want to try to go out and do?”
The exhibit will have the same hours as the library, which is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.