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MANY is New York State’s representative of the MoMS program, an outreach program of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service that brings traveling exhibitions, educational resources, and programming across America to communities through local museums, historical societies, and other cultural venues.

Voices and Votes is adapted from the exhibition American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. This traveling exhibition includes many of the same dynamic features: historical and contemporary photographs; educational and archival video; engaging multimedia interactives, and historical objects like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material. 

As our nation approaches the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we know that museums are searching for ways to engage their communities with connections to the history of our nation. They are seeking ways to tell multivocal stories of our past, to embrace all the people who live in their communities regardless of race, religion, or nation of origin. 

Learning about and understanding democracy is a process that takes place at the intersection of place, the individual, and the community. Museums with their depth of public trust, central locations within communities, and their physical and programmatic gathering spaces can become a new Agora* for the twenty-first century. Within these trusted spaces, objects of material culture, manuscripts, newspapers, photographs, literature, and works of art can ground conversations in shared experiences. 

Smithsonian resources available to the twelve museums will include digital learning curricula, preformatted press kits, and other capacity building tools. MANY staff will organize the exhibition travel, and help each museum plan, implement, and evaluate the exhibitions and interpretive programs. 

Voices and Votes exhibition themes include:

      • the principles and events that inspired the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution;
      • the struggle for voting rights and equal participation in our democracy; 
      • freedoms and responsibilities of citizens; 
      • the formal and informal processes of our political systems;
      • music, performance, and visual arts as expressions of democracy;
      • protest and actions beyond the ballot including civil rights movements and the struggles of historically marginalized people;
      • and supporting new American citizens.

"Naturalization Ceremony at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello," July 4, 2013

©Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello

Hazel Hunkins Hallinan and other suffragists picketing with banners, wearing sashes that state the names of their colleges, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

Each museum will display the Smithsonian exhibition and produce a small exhibition drawn from their own collection that relates to their community’s role in the development and advancement of Democracy in America, explores a Voices and Votes theme, or tells the story of how people in their community created positive change for our nation. The local exhibitions may be installed in the museum, or in a community partner space like a library or school, or the Voices and Votes exhibition could be installed in a community partner space and the local exhibition in the museum.

Meet the Host Sites

Learn more about the exhibition

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

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

The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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