"Voices and Votes: Democracy in America"

Illinois Humanities enthusiastically invites museums, libraries, historical societies, and other organizations in small communities and rural counties throughout Illinois to apply to host Voices and Votes: Democracy in America, the newest Museum on Main Street exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and Illinois Humanities.

 Image of
Sign, “A Woman Living Here Has Registered to Vote,” ca 1920. 2011.0230.01. Courtesy of National Museum of American History

Voices and Votes will tour Illinois from April 17, 2021, to January 27, 2022. We will select six organizations to host the exhibition during that time, each for a six-week period. We will ask each of those organizations to produce a companion exhibition and public programs in conjunction with Voices and Votes and to participate in several planning workshops and learning opportunities.

Members of the Illinois Humanities staff will review phase-one applications, possibly in consultation with members of the Illinois Humanities board of directors and/or advisers familiar with the Museum on Main Street program. We will determine which applicants will proceed to phase two based on their geographic distribution, their organizational capabilities and potential for growth, the availability of a venue suitable for displaying the exhibition, the potential for community involvement, and potential subject matter that could be addressed in a companion exhibition and/or public programs.

The application process consists of two phases. The phase I application deadline has passed.

We will notify applicants whether they have been selected to proceed to phase two by Friday, December 27, 2019. Those who are will be asked to complete and submit a phase-two application form, which will be somewhat more detailed, by Friday, February 28, 2020.

To qualify, an organization must be a nonprofit or public-sector entity, must be located in a community with fewer than 25,000 residents, and must have access to at least 800 square feet of display space with a ceiling height of at least 8.5 feet. If your organization does not fully meet all of these qualifications but is keenly interested in hosting Voices and Votes, please feel free to complete and submit the phase-one application form. In some instances, we might consider making exceptions or finding solutions.

Please read each of the following sections below:

If you have any questions, please contact Matt Meacham, program manager for statewide engagement with Illinois Humanities, at matt.meacham@ilhumanities.org or (618) 468-5580.

***Page Header Photograph by Fred Zwicky from “Election Day in Peoria,” a photo essay by Matt Dayhoff, The Eye, a Journal Star blog, November 7, 2012.

About Museum on Main Street

Museum on Main Street is a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and state humanities councils, including Illinois Humanities. It not only enables Illinoisans to experience Smithsonian-produced exhibitions in their own communities but also gives the local cultural organizations that host these exhibitions opportunities to enhance their roles within their communities and regions, attract new audiences and volunteers, expand their knowledge and resource bases, and develop skills that can be applied toward future exhibitions and programs.

Periodically, Illinois Humanities facilitates a statewide tour of a traveling exhibition on a significant theme in American culture produced by the Smithsonian Institution. Illinois Humanities invites cultural organizations in small communities and rural counties throughout the state to apply to host the exhibition. Six organizations are selected to do so.

Each host organization displays the Smithsonian-produced exhibition for six weeks. It also produces a locally focused companion exhibition linking the subject matter of the Smithsonian-produced exhibition to the history and culture of its own community or region. Additionally, it presents public programs that engage audiences and participants with the topics and themes of the exhibitions. Through individual consultation and group workshops, Illinois Humanities staff members and consultants work closely with each host organization for a year prior to opening as they plan and prepare.

A Museum on Main Street exhibition requires significant investments of time, energy, and creativity from the host organizations and their community partners. Host organizations and communities reap significant benefits from their efforts, however, and often continue to do so long after the exhibition has concluded.

For more information about the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program, visit museumonmainstreet.org.

***Page Header Photograph by Fred Zwicky from “Election Day in Peoria,” a photo essay by Matt Dayhoff, The Eye, a Journal Star blog, November 7, 2012.

Overview & Frequently Asked Questions

***Page Header Photograph by Fred Zwicky from “Election Day in Peoria,” a photo essay by Matt Dayhoff, The Eye, a Journal Star blog, November 7, 2012.