The Massillon Museum will present A Heritage of Harvest: The Industry of Agriculture in Western Stark County in the Museum’s Aultman Health Foundation Gallery. The exhibition will highlight ways in which agriculture has shaped the physical, cultural, and economic landscape of this region from its early days of American Indian agrarian socities, through the industrial revolution, to present-day business and ways of life.
Photographs, farm equipment and tools, interactive components, and other artifacts will be assembled to reflect the rich history of agriculture’s role in our community. While there will be loans from businesses, museums, and private collections, the contents will be sourced mostly from the Museum’s collection. These materials will engage viewers through the visual display, hands-on components, and well-researched written content to instill a greater appreciation for this aspect of Stark County’s cultural heritage.
A Heritage of Harvest will coincide with the debut of MassMu’s new arts garden, a component of the current 18,000-square-foot expansion project. A key feature of the garden will be its role as the permanent location for the Museum’s 1916 Russell and Company traction steam engine, which has always been stored in an offsite location due to its enormous size and weight of nearly 10 tons. The 1916 Russell Steam Engine is among the Museum’s most prized artifacts and represents an important agricultural industry and era in Massillon and Stark County history.
Russell and Company—Massillon’s largest employer during the late nineteenth century—was known worldwide for its production of farm machinery. Three of the Russell brothers—Thomas, Nahum, and George—lived on Massillon’s historic Fourth Street. Flora and Walter McClymonds, who built the Five Oaks mansion that is now home to the Massillon Woman’s Club, represented the second generation of the Russell family on Fourth Street. All four homes remain today, protected with National Register status, as architectural testaments to this city’s grand industrial and pioneering achievements.
Educational programming for all ages in the form of lectures and workshops, paired with special events like Celebrity Chef Showdown, will complement the exhibition as well as the countywide celebration of food—ProjectEAT!—in which MassMu is a founding partner. Working with other organizational partners like StarkFresh, the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, and Walsh University’s Food Design Institute, the Museum has planned a robust presentation of programs to highlight the exhibit themes, which include: Native American agrarian societies; pioneer to production farming; transportation and its impact on agricultural industries; tools and equipment; livestock; the industrial era of Russell and Company and others; and contemporary industries in Western Stark County.