A Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit called "Journey Stories" is making its Ohio debut at Groveport Town Hall.
Groveport Community Affairs Director Linda Haley said this is the fourth time the city has been the site of a Smithsonian exhibit, which means Groveport has hosted more Smithsonian traveling exhibits than any other municipal program in the nation.
"Journey Stories" will be on display through July 31. It uses photography and multimedia kiosks to tell the story of people traveling to find a new home.
Communities are selected as Smithsonian exhibit hosts by the Ohio Humanities Council via an application process; criteria include venue, companion programming and location, Haley said, which is how Groveport managed to land this exhibit.
"'Journey Stories' has to do with migration, travel and, in some cases like slavery, forced relocation," she said. "Groveport really exists thanks to transportation and the movement of people and goods through the area.
"We were originally founded because of the Ohio & Erie Canal. We have the best-preserved example of interurban track in the state and now, we have Rickenbacker Airport, where goods come in from all over the world.
"This show, along with our companion programs, really shows how transportation helped to define Groveport and helps to define all of our lives," Haley said. "Did you ever wonder how and why your ancestors settled in a specific place? 'Journey Stories' tells the story of those who traveled in search of a new home, why and where the travelers discovered a new life, and how they determined what home was."
Town Hall and the Groveport Historical Society worked together to compile two video oral history programs about the city and surrounding area that are available for viewing in conjunction with the exhibit. Haley said Town Hall has a full calendar of activities as well, with a focus on teaching visitors about what it was like to travel through Ohio as a pioneer.
"Our pioneer classes include a lot of activities to really personalize the exhibit," she said. "A lot of people have romanticized the wagon train, but in reality, it was awful, and many people didn't survive the trip.
"It really was giving up everything for these people when they set out to find a new place to call home."
Children who visit the exhibit are given the opportunity to create a quilt square to depict their idea of home. The squares will then be combined to make one large community quilt that will be put on display.
"Journey Stories" is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays; July 4 hours will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Town Hall is located at 648 Main St., Groveport. For more information or to schedule a docent-led tour, call 614-836-3333.