Cline Library’s “Route 66 in Arizona: Don’t Forget Winona!” an exhibit of information and memorabilia from one of the world’s most admired highways, opens with a public reception from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10.

“The exhibit shows the interplay between Route 66 and the communities in Arizona through which it passes,” explains Sean Evans, curator and Cline Library archivist.

Designed to take people on a visual journey of the historic highway, the exhibit’s vintage photography, postcards, maps, signs, old car parts and a chunk of Route 66 asphalt, bring the “Mother Road” to life in the library’s second floor Special Collections and Archives area.

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Curator Sean Evans proudly displays his neon Route 66 sign featured in NAU’s “Route 66 in Arizona: Don’t Forget Winona!” exhibit in Cline Library.

“Route 66 has been seen as a piece of the past that relates more to popular culture than scholarly study, but that is changing as more historians look to the highway for its influence on communities, architecture and culture,” Evans says.

The exhibit is organized to show how the road affected Flagstaff, trading posts and culture throughout Arizona. It establishes the importance of “the highway that is the best” with a case brimming with Route 66 publications from around the world. One display case is dedicated to people who have helped preserve Route 66 history. Video interviews with these people are available through the library.

NAU lies along the 1926-1967 alignment of Route 66 through Flagstaff. Cline Library is one of 10 U.S. Department of Interior National Park Service Route 66 Archives and Research Collaborative repositories designated from within the eight states intersected by Route 66.

“Route 66 in Arizona: Don’t Forget Winona!” will run through August 2010 and will be available online for years to come via NAU’s Colorado Plateau Digital Archives—a site that includes more than 1,000 Route 66 images and receives 2.2 million hits a year.

The show opening coincides with Flagstaff’s Route 66 Days and the Route 66 Preservation Foundation’s Will Rogers Awards held Sept. 10 to 13 in Flagstaff. The event brings thousands of visitors to town, including international car club members, for a car show and Route 66 activities.

Evans, one of the highway’s biggest fans, plans to be there.

Dressed in one of his 50 or so Route 66-themed Hawaiian shirts, Evans says his childhood’s family road trips from East to West first sparked his interest in the highway.

“There’s a saying I like: The best place on Route 66 is where you are and where you are going,” he says.

Parking for the reception is available at the High Country Conference Center garage, with shuttles running every 10 minutes. For information, contact Cline.Library@nau.edu or call (928) 523-6802.