Press Release

Illinois Humanities Announces Host Communities for Voices and Votes: Democracy in America

Museum on Main Street Brings World-Class Exhibition to Six Illinois Communities in 2021-22

CHICAGO, March 12, 2020—Illinois Humanities is excited to announce the itinerary for the 2021-22 Illinois tour of Voices and Votes: Democracy in America, the latest exhibition from Museum on Main Street, a program of the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils that shares world-class exhibitions with small communities.

The six Illinois communities selected, and the schedules include:

  • April 17-May 29, 2021: General John A. Logan Museum, Murphysboro
  • June 5-July 17, 2021: Madison County Historical Society, Edwardsville
  • July 24-September 4, 2021: Savanna Museum and Cultural Center, Savanna
  • September 11-October 23, 2021: Bryan-Bennett Library, Salem
  • October 30-December 11, 2021: Jacksonville Area Museum, Jacksonville
  • December 18, 2021-January 29, 2022: Vespasian Warner Public Library District, Clinton.

“We’re honored to partner with these six organizations to engage Illinoisans in thought and conversation about the crucial role of civic participation in our communities, our state, and our nation,” said Gabrielle Lyon, executive director of Illinois Humanities. “All of these institutions make significant contributions to the communities and regions that they serve, and we’re eager to support and learn from their work.”

Illinois Humanities chose the six host organizations through a two-stage application process. Twenty-two institutions applied in the first round. Thirteen were invited to proceed to the second round. The decisions were based on criteria such as each applicant’s organizational capability, its potential to benefit from the experience and the learning and growth opportunities associated with it, its preliminary plans for companion exhibitions and public programs, the suitability of its venue, the likelihood of community support and participation, and geographic distribution. Preference was given to organizations in communities with fewer than 25,000 residents.

Museum on Main Street is conducted cooperatively by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and state humanities councils nationwide. Beyond providing access to informative and compelling exhibits, the program also enables the organizations that host the exhibitions to enhance their skills and expand their capacities in a variety of ways. Voices and Votes is based on an exhibition produced by the National Museum of American History. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

  • 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 addresses 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 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.

“The subject matter of Voices and Votes is vitally important and eminently timely, and the organizations that will host it during its Illinois tour plan to supplement it with compelling, locally focused companion exhibitions and programs,” commented Matt Meacham, program manager for statewide engagement with Illinois Humanities. “It will be a privilege to share this experience with Illinoisans in cooperation with our local partners.”


About: Illinois Humanities activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community and strengthen civic engagement.