‘Voices and Votes’: Coming to a Nebraska town near you

Throughout the year, we'll be providing special resources to communities where the exhibition will be on display – including Howells, Kearney, Belvidere, Wahoo, Gering, and Omaha.


We can’t wait for this: Starting this April and running through January 2024, Civic Nebraska is partnering with our friends at Humanities Nebraska to create programming around a new traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution called “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America.” The first stop will be from April 15 to May 26 at the Howells Historical Society Museum in Howells.

“Voices and Votes” is based on a major exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, “American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith.” The exhibition has many dynamic features: historical and contemporary photos; educational and archival video; engaging multimedia interactives with short games and additional footage, photos, and information; and historical objects like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material.

In addition, a traveling version of “A Great Leap of Faith” is at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln until May 20. You may recall that we hosted a Civic Saturday gathering at the Museum in conjunction with that exhibition’s February opening.

“‘Voices and Votes’ will inspire many Nebraskans to think about and discuss the importance of our right to vote and the sacrifices that so many people made to ensure that this privilege is afforded to citizens of all backgrounds,” said Mary Yager, associate director of Humanities Nebraska. “It’s exciting to think about the conversations that will be sparked among visitors of all ages.”

For our part, we’ll help coordinate school field trips to see the exhibition and provide a variety of interactive activities and workshops at exhibit locations, including a voting simulation, a Civic Sidewalk Series to raise awareness about voting and provide election information, and civic health presentations on topics such as election integrity and confidence in elections. Sites hosting the exhibition can choose from a number of interactive activities.

“Our mission is to build powerful citizens, fortify our collective civic life, and advocate for voters, and ‘Voices and Votes’ is a perfect fit for what we do every day across our state,” said Nancy Petitto, director of civic health programs at Civic Nebraska. “Democracy is a hands-on affair, and so we have tailored our offerings to encourage interactive activities inspired by the exhibition.”

Following its six weeks in Howells, “Voices and Votes” will be on display in the following communities:

Kearney: June 5 to July 10, Trails & Rails Museum

Belvidere: July 19 to Aug. 20, Thayer County Historical Museum

Wahoo: Aug. 29 to Oct. 7, Saunders County Historical Museum

Gering: Oct. 16 to Nov. 20, Legacy of the Plains Museum

Omaha: Dec. 1, 2023 to Jan. 27, 2024, Great Plains Black History Museum

“Voices and Votes” is part of Museum on Main Street, a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and state humanities councils nationwide that serves the small-town museums and citizens of rural America. This exhibition is brought to Nebraska with funding support from Nebraska Cultural Endowment, the Nebraska Trucking Association, and other donors. Learn more here.

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