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The American barn is an icon of the nation-s agricultural heritage and a potent symbol of American culture. Exploring barns in all segments of American life, from their architectural forms to their use in advertising, the traveling exhibition Barn Again! Celebrating an American Icon will open Jan. 24 and run through March 17 in the University Museum at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

The exhibition features architectural models, photographs, popular culture objects and period advertisements.

Developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the National Building Museum in cooperation with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Barn Again is funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution Special Exhibition Fund and the Tennessee Humanities Council.

Barn Again gives exhibition visitors new ways to consider a familiar icon. The exhibition surveys the agricultural changes that led to architectural adaptations on the farm, following major movements in American history such as 19th century European immigration and westward migration. Industrial farming in the 20th century has rendered many traditional barns obsolete because they cannot accommodate the enormous machinery and harvest of today-s large-scale farms. The loss of these architectural structures is forever changing rural landscape and depriving the nation of important historical monuments.

Tennessee-s Barn Again host communities have been selected in part, for the stories they have to tell about their region-s rural history and culture.

The Weakley County Arts and Humanities Council (WCAHC) in collaboration with the University Museum will present a program of music, dance, paintings and photographs to the six elementary schools in the county, Jan. 24 and 25.

-We want to use this two-day tour in the elementary schools to promote the University Museum and the Barn Again exhibit,- said Peggy King, a member of the Weakley County Arts and Humanities Council.

WCAHC was formed to serve as a vehicle for promoting the arts, humanities and cultural development in the county. The membership is comprised of representatives of each area of the county and reflects the interests of individual artists and arts organizations.

Even as barns disappear from the countryside, their iconic role in American culture remains constant. Advertising and industry professionals, politicians and artists frequently use barn imagery to convey American values such as dependability, hard work, independence and traditionalism. Advertisers, for example, use pictures of barns to convey the idea of a product-s -just-off-the-farm- freshness.

The University Museum, located in the Holland McCombs Center on campus, is under the direction of Dr. S. K. Airee. The museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The museum will also open any time for group tours. To set up tours or for more information, call Dr. S. K. Airee at 901-587-7454.