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Smithsonian travel exhibit coming to Martin

The Martin Public Library, in cooperation with The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program, Humanities Tennessee, and local sponsors, will host the traveling exhibit, “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America,” Oct. 7 – Nov. 18. The exhibition examines the nearly 250-year-old American experiment of a government “of, by and for the people,” and how each generation since continues to question how to form “a more perfect union.” 

A public ribbon-cutting event will open the exhibit at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Martin Public Library in downtown Martin.
Humanities Tennessee selected Martin Public Library and northwest Tennessee as one of six communities to host “Voices and Votes” as part of the Museum on Main Street program — a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibit explores the action, reaction, vision, and revision that democracy demands as Americans continue to question how to shape the country. From the revolution and suffrage, to civil rights and casting ballots, everyone in every community is part of this ever-evolving story — the story of democracy in America. Exhibition sections explore the origins of American democracy, the struggles to obtain and keep the vote, the machinery of democracy, the right to petition and protest beyond the ballot and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. “Voices and Votes” features historical and contemporary photos; educational and archival video; engaging multimedia interactives with short games; and historical objects like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material.
“‘Voice and Votes’ allows us to reflect on our region’s history and explore what it means to be an active participant in the governance of not only the country but also this community,” said Katie Parr, Director of Martin Public Library. “In addition to the exhibit on the second floor of the library, a series of public events will encourage conversation about the central themes of civic responsibility and engagement.” These free events include programming for children and adults at locations around the region. A full calendar of events is available online at

“Voices and Votes” is based on an exhibit currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History called American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith. The exhibit 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 the exhibit installation in Martin is provided by the U.S. Congress, Humanities Tennessee, Martin Public Library, West TN PBS, Discovery Park of America, the University of Tennessee at Martin and the Weakley County Historical and Genealogical Society.

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