Two new traveling exhibits will bring world-class exhibitions to Carroll County starting October 9, 2021

The exhibitions will highlight opportunities for civic action and results of that action, and the pursuit of civil rights by and for African Americans in Illinois.

 

Two new traveling exhibits will bring world-class exhibitions to Carroll County starting October 9, 2021

The exhibitions will highlight opportunities for civic action and results of that action, and the pursuit of civil rights by and for African Americans in Illinois.


The Savanna Museum and Cultural Center will host Voices and Votes: Democracy in America, the newest Museum on Main Street exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution and Illinois Humanities, at the museum, 406 Main Street in Savanna, from Saturday, October 9, to Saturday, November 13.

Voices and Votes explores 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. The exhibition explores the questions: Who has the right to vote, what are the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens, and whose voices will be heard?

Using historical and contemporary photographs, videos, interactive multimedia components, and artifacts, the exhibition examines the following themes:

  • “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 that facilitate participation 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.

The Savanna Museum and Cultural Center is one of six organizations selected by Illinois Humanities to host Voices and Votes during its statewide tour, along with the Madison County Historical Society in Edwardsville, Bryan-Bennett Library in Salem, the Jacksonville Area Museum, Vespasian Warner Public Library in Clinton, and the General John A. Logan Museum in Murphysboro. Preference was given to communities with 25,000 or fewer residents.

The Savanna Museum and Cultural Center will be the third location on the tour, which will continue through March 16, 2022, after leaving Savanna this November.

“It’s always a privilege to work with the Savanna Museum and Cultural Center. We admire the museum’s engagement with the community,” commented Gabrielle Lyon, executive director of Illinois Humanities.

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America will tour Illinois under the auspices of Museum on Main Street, a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and state humanities councils — including Illinois Humanities. It enables Illinoisans to experience Smithsonian-produced exhibitions on significant themes in American culture in their own communities.

It also gives the local cultural organizations that host those exhibitions opportunities to enhance their capacities in a variety of ways. Each host organization 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. It also presents public programs that engage audiences and participants with the topics and themes of the exhibition.

“The Savanna Museum and Cultural Center has exciting plans for engaging students with the democratic process, accentuating the important work of local officials and election judges, and demonstrating how issues related to democracy manifested themselves in the early history of Carroll County. We’re eager to see how those plans materialize,” Lyon continued.

While the Savanna Museum and Cultural Center hosts Voices and Votes, York Township Public Library in Thomson will host a related exhibition, Illinois Freedom Project. Illinois Freedom Project examines the pursuit of civil rights by and for African Americans in Illinois. It will be available for viewing at the library, 1005 West Main Street in Thomson, from Saturday, October 9, to Saturday, November 13.

An outgrowth of an educational program that engages young people with African American history in Illinois, the Illinois Freedom Project exhibition traces Black Illinoisans’ struggles for freedom from the French Colonial era to early 20th century Chicago. It is touring Illinois in conjunction with Voices and Votes, visiting communities near those where Voices and Votes is exhibited.


Illinois Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a statewide nonprofit organization that activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. We provide free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois, particularly for communities of color, individuals living on low incomes, counties and towns in rural areas, small arts and cultural organizations, and communities highly impacted by mass incarceration. Founded in 1974, Illinois Humanities is supported by state, federal, and private funds. Learn more about Illinois Humanities at ilhumanities.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @ILHumanities.

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