Farm Life: A Century of Change for Farm Families and Their Neighbors, is a story of profound change for farm families and rural communities. As visitors travel to the various parts of the exhibit -- the farmhouse, the fields, the barn, and various local gathering spots -- they will explore how the political, economic, and cultural roots of the Chippewa Valley influence families today on and off the farm.
Visitors get a well-rounded insider’s view of the many parts of a Chippewa Valley farmstead: the hen house, machine shed, milk house, barn, fields, and the farmhouse itself, which is the heart of the family farm. Farms are businesses, and their proprietors are skillful business people. But farms are also homes -- where the most intimate dramas of life are played out -- and in many cases, farms are the birthrights of their owners.
The exhibit also takes visitors to places off the farm that are frequented by farm families and their neighbors. The assorted rural meeting places and their participants are closely interconnected. A dance hall, church, feed mill, rural school, lutefisk supper are generally supported by the same people in a rural community. Together they form a human network that, despite changes, sustain what people find valuable about rural life: a sense of community that is a practical and a spiritual necessity.
A trip through Farm Life is a thought-provoking and sometimes poigant journey, but also a lot of fun. Any kid can become a farm kid as he or she gardens, fixes things in the machine shed, gets a calf ready for the fair. There's also much to learn, see, and do for adults.
The exhibit presents many ways to learn because the Chippewa Valley Museum attracts people of all ages and interests. People can see the sights and hear the sounds of authentic farm life.
Major funding for Farm Life came from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and the Wisconsin Humanities Council. The NEH found the Farm Life exhibit remarkable for, among other things, its “seamless integration of scholarship and the stories of real people.”