Kirksville Arts Association to Host Smithsonian Exhibition Showcasing Music

The Kirksville Arts Association will host the Smithsonian exhibition “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music,” March 21-May 2.

Kirksville will be the first stop in Missouri for the traveling exhibition in an ongoing partnership between state humanities councils and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The partnership, known as Museum on Main Street, focuses on bringing cultural events to rural communities.

“I’m excited that we were selected as one of the six cities out of 30” said Judy Neuweg, director of the Kirksville Arts Association. “We’re the premier city for New Harmonies.”

The main theme of the exhibition is the on-going cultural process that has made America the birthplace of more music than any place on earth. The exhibition provides fascinating, inspiring and toe-tapping insights to the American story of multi-cultural exchange. The story is full of surprises about familiar songs, histories of instruments, the roles of religion and technology, and the continuity of musical roots from “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to the latest hip hop CD.

“Roots music” is described as sacred and secular, rural and urban, acoustic and electric, simple and complex, old and new. The term first appeared in print and conversation in the early 1980s. Originally it meant “roots of popular music or rock ‘n’ roll,” but today the term has come to mean all music that has grown out of older folk traditions.

Through a selection of photographs, recordings, instruments, lyrics and artist profiles, New Harmonies explores the distinct cultural identities of gospel, country, blues and other forms of roots music as they record the history of the American people and set the foundation for many musical genres appreciated world wide today.

Supporting exhibits that are more localized to the area will be also on display. New Harmonies and supporting exhibits are free to all and will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Fridays; and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays at the Kirksville Arts Association, located at 117 S. Franklin. Tour guides will be available to answer questions, but the exhibits are set up for people to walk around and enjoy on their own.   
In addition to the exhibits, 14 live music acts will give free performances March 20-May 3. The performance schedule will begin at 5 p.m. March 20 with the opening reception at the Kirksville Arts Association. A representative from the Smithsonian will be in attendance. Times, dates and locations for performances vary, for a complete schedule of events visit

New Harmonies Lunch and Learn sessions will also be sponsored at noon April 1,8,15,22 and 29. These sessions will be catered by Il Spazio and require tickets for the costs of $10 each or 5 for $45. Tickets will be on sale at the Kirksville Arts Association and Edna Campbell’s.

For more information about the New Harmonies exhibit, live performances and Lunch and Learn sessions, or to make reservations for large groups, call 660.665.0500 or e-mail

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