The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street, in cooperation with Humanities Tennessee, presents “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America.” The exhibition examines the nearly 250-year-old American experiment of a government “of, by and for the people,” and how each generation since continues to question how to form “a more perfect union.” Opening at the Morgan County Heritage Museum May 13, “Voices and Votes” will be on view each Saturday and Sunday through June 25. Weekday tours can be arranged by appointment.
The Morgan County Heritage Museum and the surrounding community has been chosen by Humanities Tennessee to host “Voices and Votes” as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition will tour six communities in Tennessee during 2023 and early 2024.
“Voices and Votes” explores the action, reaction, vision and revision that democracy demands as Americans continue to question how to shape the country. From the revolution and suffrage, to civil rights and casting ballots, everyone in every community is part of this ever-evolving story—the story of democracy in America. Exhibition sections explore the origins of American democracy, the struggles to obtain and keep the vote, the machinery of democracy, the right to petition and protest beyond the ballot and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. “Voices and Votes” features historical and contemporary photos; educational and archival video; engaging multimedia interactives with short games; and historical objects like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material.
“‘Voice and Votes’ allows us to reflect on local history and explore what it means to be an active participant in the governance of not only the country but also our communities in and around the Upper Cumberland,” said Jill Jones-Lazuka, President of the Morgan County Genealogical & Historical Society. “We want to convene conversations about and have developed local exhibitions and public programs to complement the Smithsonian exhibition.” Such free events include a lecture by Public Historian, Mark Dudney on June 10.
Designed for small-town museums, libraries and cultural organizations, “Voices and Votes” will serve as a community meeting place for conversations about democracy, the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens, participating in government, and more. With the support and guidance of state humanities councils, these towns will develop complementary exhibits, host public programs and facilitate educational initiatives to raise people’s understanding about their own history, the joys and challenges of living rural, how change has impacted their community, and prompt discussion of goals for the future.
“Voices and Votes” is based on an exhibition currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History called American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith.
The exhibition is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. To learn more about “Voices” and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit museumonmainstreet.org.
Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress.
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu.