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Press Release

The Smithsonian Arrives in Small-Town Oklahoma

April 10, 2024

(Oklahoma City—April 10, 2024) – Small towns play large roles in American democracy. The state of our union and the progress we make falls to each of us and unfolds not only in the marbled halls of Congress, but in corner cafes, on main streets, down red dirt roads, and across rural America.

This spring, summer, and fall, six small towns in Oklahoma will explore and reflect on the responsibilities of citizenship when they host Voices and Votes: Democracy in America, a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Steet (MoMS) program. Running for six weeks at each site, the exhibition opens April 13, 2024, at the Nowata Historical Society and Museum. Join the community for a ribbon-cutting, mayoral proclamation, voter registration, Nowata Community Choir concert, and even meet Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty. 

The exhibit will then travel to the Bristow Train Depot & Museum, Anadarko Community Library, Cheyenne-Roger Mills County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, the Al Harris Library at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, and finally the Bethany Library.

“As Americans we share a responsibility,” said OH Executive Director Caroline Lowery. “Democracy is a verb that requires work and reflection and to better understand our current state, we must look to the past. I invite all Oklahomans to join in this endeavor and experience Voices and Votes at a site near them.”

Voices and Votes is based on a major exhibition currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and 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 historical objects like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material. 

Designed for small-town museums, libraries and cultural organizations, Voices and Votes invites the community into conversation about our country’s complex history founded on dialogue, debate, and dissent as they consider the exhibition’s key questions: Who has the right to vote? What are the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens? Whose voices will be heard? How do you participate as a citizen?

With the support of Oklahoma Humanities, these towns will also create and present complementary programs, exhibits, lectures, and educational opportunities to help people better understand their own history.  

This year, skip the TSA checkpoints and travel delays and experience the Smithsonian right here in Oklahoma at an exhibition site near you. The Revolution. Civil Rights. Suffrage. Elections. Protests. Citizenship and more. See how voices and votes shape not only the past, but the present.


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