In honor of Election Day, tomorrow, Tuesday, November 6th, we’d like to share a roundup of articles about American museums striving to communicate the importance of voting!
Did you know that the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the Mummers Museum in Philadelphia, the Hammer Museum, and the Roswell Museum and Art Center in New Mexico all serve as polling sites? Since 2015, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site Museum in Indianapolis has also served as a proud polling place for its community. Its director, Charles Hyde, is encouraging other museums to adopt the same practice.
“In an era where turnout is far from peak levels, and debate simmers over mechanisms like early voting and mail-in balloting, could museums be doing more to help the general public as they’re seeking to meet their civic obligations? I encourage other museums engaging in this act of civic responsibility to use the social media hashtag #proudpollingsite and prove that together, we can provide our communities with the enhanced experiences that cultivate a more engaged citizenry. It’s about time we all raised our hands.”
Unfortunately, millennials continue to demonstrate low voter turnout. In an attempt to change this, the virtual pop-up Museum of Voting is encouraging voters to ‘gram their polling experience…mostly by posting selfies with voting stickers.
“According to Pew Research Center, only 51% of millennials voted in the 2016 presidential election, compared to Gen X (63%), baby boomers (69%), and the silent generation (70%). In an effort to spark some excitement around this year’s midterm elections, creative studio Gold Front has created The Museum of Voting, “a one-day-only, insanely Instagrammable pop-up experience,” i.e., just your local polling station.”
The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma, Alabama, however, is an actual museum with a mission of exhibiting “materials and artifacts from the voting rights struggle in America, especially those that highlight the experiences, which fueled “Bloody Sunday”, the Selma to Montgomery March, and the Civil Rights Movement throughout the South. The NVRMI provides research forums, community action, and makes presentations that impact or support voting rights issues in America.”
Powerfully, the first quote to greet visitors on the Museum’s website homepage is “Hands that picked cotton can pick our presidents.” With nine galleries that exhibit artifacts from the Selma March and beyond, while detailing the civil rights events of the 1960s, the museum serves as a visual reminder of the importance of casting your vote.
Finally, check out this great article that summarizes how “Artists and Museums are Shining a Light on Democracy, Freedom, and the Importance of Voting.”
“Artists and museums have been engaged in the discourse throughout the political season, mounting exhibitions and public art projects, hosting public discussions and voter registration drives.
The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) provides its institutional members with Nonprofit Voter Resources, guidelines about how they can participate in advocacy and nonpartisan election activities.
The Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Okla., has been a venue for nonpartisan voter education, handing out sample ballots and information about issues and candidates. On Nov. 4, Philbrook is hosting a town hall. New York Live Arts is facilitating a conversation on gun ownership on November 5th. On Election Night, 100 Days Action is throwing a “Blue Wave/Red Tide” election night party and exhibition viewing in San Francisco.”
Will you be voting tomorrow?