Examining Our Citizen-Powered Democracy: Smithsonian’s Traveling Exhibit Comes to Tennessee

Later this month, the Tennessee tour of “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America” launches in Clinton at the Green McAdoo Cultural Center. The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) traveling exhibit 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.”

Our democracy demands action, reaction, vision, and revision as we continue to question how to form “a more perfect union.” Some of these questions include:

  • Who has the right to vote?
  • What are the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens?
  • Whose voices will be heard?
  • How do you participate as a citizen?
  • How do we encourage more people to participate in our democracy?

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.

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 Humanities Tennessee, each tour site 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.

The tour will stop in six Tennessee cities whose host sites and communities were chosen by Humanities Tennessee for this national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations.

Tennessee Tour 2023 – 2024

  • March 25,2023 – May 7: Green McAdoo Cultural Center (Clinton)
  • May 13 – June 25: Morgan Co. Genealogical &Historical Society Heritage Museum (Wartburg)
  • July 1 – August 13: Promise Land Heritage Association & Historic Site (Charlotte)
  • August 19 – October 1: African American Heritage Society of Maury Co. @Maury County Public Library (Columbia)
  • October 7 – November 19: Martin Public Library (Martin)
  • November 25 – January 7, 2024: Tom & O.E. Stigall Museum (Humboldt)

“We are thrilled to bring another Museum on Main Street traveling exhibit to all three Grand Divisions of the state. It is a pivotal time in our democracy to discuss the questions posed by this exhibit, and even more important to do so in partnership with trusted local cultural organizations,” said Tim Henderson, executive director, Humanities Tennessee. “Participation in our democracy is as essential at the local level as it is nationally, which will be reflected in the unique programming at every tour stop.”

“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.