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Smithsonian Exhibition: Voices and Votes: Democracy in America

The Smithsonian is Coming to Arizona!

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America 2020
Apply to be one of 6 venues to host this one-of-a-kind exhibition! 
Applications are due October 15, 2019

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 will be a springboard for discussions about those very questions and how they are reflected in local stories.

Designed for small-town museums, libraries and cultural organizations, Voices and Votes: Democracy in America will serve a community meeting place to convene conversations about what it means to be a citizen and examine the context and main controversies behind America’s democratic system. Towns will develop complementary exhibits, host public programs, and facilitate educational initiatives to deepen people’s understanding our nation’s democratic system.

Quick Links

Click Here to Apply

Click Here to view our Voices and Votes webinar


Chris Wells, Programs Manager
(602) 257 0335

Samantha Anderson, Grants Manager
(602) 257 0335

The six sites selected to host the Voices and Votes Smithsonian exhibition will receive:
  • Free rental of the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition
  • Exhibition support manual and assistance in exhibition and program planning
  • Publicity materials such as posters, brochures, press kits, banner, etc.
  • Funding support from Arizona Humanities for development of the local companion exhibition, public humanities events, and local publicity and promotions
  • Statewide publicity and promotion
  • Expertise of and consultation from scholars, statewide experts and museum professionals
How to Become a Host for Voices and Votes: Democracy in America

Arizona Humanities invites museums, nature centers, public libraries, art centers, and other nonprofit cultural organizations to apply. Experience with traveling exhibitions is helpful but not essential to a successful application. CLICK HERE TO BEGIN ONLINE APPLICATION.



Eligible applicants will:

  • Either be located in a community with a population of around 20,000 or the have ability to demonstrate limited access to nationally recognized exhibitions
  • Provide:
    •  a minimum of 700 square feet of display space for the Smithsonian exhibition
    • a ceiling height of at least 9 feet
    • functional electrical outlets in the display space
    • shipping crate storage of 220 square feet
    • minimum standards of security during the exhibition’s stay
  • Have convenient hours that are open to the public
  • Tell a unique local story that ties in with the theme of Voices and Votes that will be the basis for a locally produced companion exhibition
  • Demonstrate ideas for strong public humanities programming
  • Develop partnerships among organizations in the community or region


Sites selected to host the Voices and Votes exhibition will:

  • Assign a project director for the exhibition who will attend planning meetings and coordinate the project from beginning to end
  • Implement publicity in your local community and region in cooperation with Arizona Humanities
  • Produce a local companion exhibition and host public humanities programs
  • Host a grand opening/ribbon cutting and invite public officials, media, legislators, congressional representatives, and others
  • Provide a cost share report at the project’s conclusion tracking all staff and volunteer time, facility expenses, and other donated resources
  • Provide a secure, dry space to store empty exhibition crates for the duration of the exhibition.
  • Engage in cooperative publicity
  • Contribute hard work and some out-of-pocket expenses

Exhibition Schedule

When will Voices and Votes be in Arizona?

  • The exhibition will tour Arizona from March 28, 2020 to January 10, 2021.
  • Mark your top three choices for exhibition dates. If your host site is selected Arizona Humanities will use this information to create the final exhibit tour schedule. AH staff will strive to match host sites with their preferred dates. However, we cannot guarantee organizations will be assigned their top choices. 
  • Exhibition schedule:

             March 28, 2020 – May 9, 2020 
             May 16, 2020 – June 27, 2020 
             July 4, 2020 – August 15, 2020 
             August 22, 2020 – October 3, 2020 
             October 10, 2020 – November 21, 2020 
             November 28, 2020 – January 9, 2021 

Exhibition Content

The exhibition will explore historic events and pose questions for today in the following content areas:

  • The Great Leap: Examine the context and main controversies behind America’s democratic system. Learn the stories of our famous founders and those who remain mostly unknown. What were the principles and events that inspired the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? Just how revolutionary was our new democracy led by the people? And who were “the people?”
  • A Vote, A Voice: We have a diverse body of voters today, but not every American has always had the right to vote. The fight for fair representation, suffrage, and a voice at the polls has meant struggle and changes to law ever since our founding. Learn about these struggles, how voting was expanded, and continued challenges to getting the vote.
  • The Machinery of Democracy: We participate in the political system through state and national parties, nomination conventions, and stomping for our candidate of choice. Learn about this machinery of democracy, how it calls us to be involved, but can also control how we get information about candidates and issues.
  • Beyond the Ballot: Americans fight against injustice. Men and women of every ethnicity, class, and state have shared in the revolutionary spirit of rising up and speaking out. The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees this right to peaceably assembly and petition the government. See the different places and different motivations of diverse Americans to petition for their interests and concerns.
  • Creating Citizens: Who are “We the People?” What is the meaning of citizenship? Ever since the creation of the Constitution, Americans continue to interpret, expand, and shape the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen. Explore how those views of rights and responsibilities have shaped our national identity and our complex national story.

State Scholar for Voices and Votes

Dr. Thomas J. Davis is an historian, lawyer, and professor emeritus at Arizona State University, Tempe, where he taught U.S. constitutional and legal history. He also taught as a visiting professor of law at the ASU College of Law. Davis received his PhD in U.S. history from Columbia University in the City of New York, and his JD cum laude from New York’s University at Buffalo School of Law. Among his more than 50 scholarly articles and books, is Plessy v. Ferguson (2012), a volume in ABC-CLIO’s Landmarks of the American Mosaic series.

Ready to apply?

CLICK HERE to begin your online Voices and Votes: Democracy in America Host Application.


For procedural questions about the online application, administrative management, financial matters, and partnerships, please contact Arizona Humanities staff at info@azhumanities.org or 602-257-0335.

For questions about interpretive content, history, and local story ideas, please contact Dr. Thomas J. Davis at tjdavis@asu.edu

Applications are due October 15, 2019

Host site notifications will be sent out November 1, 2019

Please note that Arizona Humanities will move forward with Voices and Votes: Democracy in America as funding allows. The Smithsonian host site application process is competitive. No organization is guaranteed to be selected as a Smithsonian host site.

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America traveling exhibition may be used for educational purposes only. The exhibition may not be used toward commercial or political ends.

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America has been made possible in Arizona by Arizona Humanities.

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America is part of the Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress. Learn more at https://museumonmainstreet.org/