Smithsonian Exhibit on Voting in America to Launch Statewide Tour in Sarasota

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America, a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution, will be on display from August 15 to October 10 at the Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Library

​Florida Humanities is coordinating a statewide tour of a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit on voting in America. The statewide tour launches this week at the Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Public Library.

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America is based on a major exhibition currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., and tells the story of America’s democratic form of government. This Museum on Main Street adaptation includes many of the same dynamic features: historical and contemporary photos; educational and archival video; engaging multimedia interactives with short games and additional footage, photos, and information; and objects like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material.

The exhibit kickoff will be celebrated virtually with an online “squeeze,” a modern-day take on the tradition of famous First Lady Dolley Madison, whose social gatherings were so popular that attendees had to squeeze in. Registration for the virtual launch event, which will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 15, is available online at The new exhibit is brought to Sarasota County by Florida Humanities and made possible by generous funding from Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Voices and Votes will be on display at the North Sarasota Library through October 15. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the library will observe social-distancing practices, limit the number of simultaneous visitors, and regularly sanitize the exhibit. Visitors are encouraged to verify the library’s hours and other information by calling the library at 941.861.1360. A number of online events, in partnership with civic groups The Village Square and Braver Angels, will augment the physical exhibit. These programs include book discussions, documentary screenings, and workshops to recognize and lessen the effects of polarization on political conversations. Learn about virtual events here.

The exhibit features six thematic sections. Each section explores historic content and poses questions relevant to our contemporary form of government. “The Machinery of Democracy,” for example, covers the myriad ways we participate in our political system, including state and national parties, nominating conventions, and promoting our candidate of choice.

After leaving the North Sarasota Library, Voices and Votes will make three additional stops in Florida. The Polk County History Center in Bartow will host the exhibition from mid-October to mid-December. The Haitian Heritage Museum in Miami will host the exhibit from mid-December to early February 2021. The tour will conclude at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee from mid-February until the end of March 2021.

Media Contact:

Keith Simmons, Communications Director,

Source: Florida Humanities