2021 - 2022 Traveling Exhibits

Learn more about Illinois Humanities’ Museum on Main Street program and the Voices and Votes exhibition from this NPR interview with Matt Meacham, Program Manager for Statewide Engagement at Illinois Humanities.

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America

Illinois Humanities is excited to partner with the General John A. Logan Museum in Murphysboro, the Madison County Historical Society in Edwardsville, the Savanna Museum and Cultural Center in Savanna, the Bryan-Bennett Library in Salem, the Jacksonville Area Museum in Jacksonville, and the Vespasian Warner Public Library District in Clinton to host Voices and Votes: Democracy in America, the newest Museum on Main Street exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America examines questions stemming from the leap of faith taken by the American revolutionaries who established a government that entrusted the power of the nation not in a monarchy but in its citizens. Who has the right to vote? What are the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens? Whose voices will be heard?

Voices and Votes will tour Illinois from July 19, 2021, to March 16, 2022*. Each of the partner organizations will produce a companion exhibition and public programs in conjunction with Voices and Votes and participate in several planning workshops and learning opportunities.

Illinois Freedom Project

In conjunction with the Voices and Votes: Democracy in America exhibition, Illinois Humanities is honored to sponsor a complementary traveling exhibition, Illinois Freedom Project. Illinois Freedom Project explores the pursuit of civil rights by and for African Americans in Illinois with six communities in 2021-22. The exhibition will visit Wood River, Salem, Thomson, Winchester, Clinton, and Carbondale.

2021 Museum on Main Street Traveling ExhibitionsTim Townsend, superintendent of the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield and one of the coordinators of the Illinois Freedom Project, comments, “The Illinois Freedom Project provides a glimpse into the struggles and victories of African Americans in Illinois. We are thrilled to be able to partner with Museum on Main Street and Illinois Humanities and look forward to working with the host organizations in presenting the Illinois Freedom Project traveling exhibit.”

For more information on the Illinois Freedom Project, visit their website.

Exhibitions Schedules:*

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America

  • July 19-August 21, 2021: Madison County Historical Society, Edwardsville
  • August 28-October 2, 2021: Bryan-Bennett Library, Salem
  • October 9-November 13, 2021: Savanna Museum and Cultural Center, Savanna
  • November 20-December 22, 2021 Jacksonville Area Museum, Jacksonville
  • January 3-February 5, 2022: Vespasian Warner Public Library District, Clinton
  • February 12-March 16, 2022: General John A. Logan Museum, Murphysboro

Illinois Freedom Project

  • July 17-August 21, 2021: Wood River Museum, Wood River
  • August 28-October 2, 2021: Bryan-Bennett Library, Salem
  • October 9-November 13, 2021: York Township Public Library, Thomson
  • November 20-December 18, 2021: Old School Museum, Winchester
  • January 3-February 5, 2022: Vespasian Warner Public Library, Clinton
  • February 12-March 16, 2022: African American Museum of Southern Illinois, Carbondale.

*Tour schedules are tentative. They are subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please consult host organizations’ websites to confirm schedules: Illinois Humanities and Illinois Freedom Project.

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.

More About Voices and Votes: Democracy in America

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

When American revolutionaries waged a war for independence, they took a leap of faith that sent ripple effects across generations. They embraced a radical idea of establishing a government that entrusted the power of the nation not in a monarchy, but in its citizens. That great leap sparked questions that continue to impact Americans: who has the right to vote, what are the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens, and whose voices will be heard? Voices and Votes: American Democracy will be a springboard for discussions about those very questions and how they are reflected in local stories.

Our democracy involves action, reaction, vision, and revision as we continue to question how to form “a more perfect union.” From the Revolution and the expansion of suffrage to the pursuit of civil rights and the casting of ballots, everyone in every community is part of this ever‐evolving story – the story of our American democracy.

Voices and Votes will feature historical and contemporary photographs, videos, interactive multimedia components, and artifacts. The exhibition will encompass the following content areas:

  • The Great Leap – the origins of America’s democratic system
  • A Vote, A Voice – the expansion of the right to vote and challenges related to it, past and present
  • The Machinery of Democracy – the institutions and systems through which we participate in the electoral process
  • Beyond the Ballot – civic participation, advocacy, and activism beyond the electoral process
  • Creating Citizens – perspectives on the rights and responsibilities of citizens and their influence upon our complex national identity.

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America is the newest Museum on Main Street exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

***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. For more about the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, visit sites.si.edu/s/.

***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.