Explore the history of citizen participation, debate, and compromise from the nation’s formation to today. Awe-inspiring objects captivate guests while interactive elements spark conversation about civil rights, politics, conflict, and consensus. Artifacts range from the pre-statehood handwritten laws of Buckskin Joe’s mining camp to the priceless inkwell from the Civil War surrender at Appomattox. The exhibition is a core element of our ambitious and multifaceted public engagement initiative, This Is What Democracy Looks Like, designed to inspire renewed participation in election-year democracy.
American Democracy also features a Four Freedoms Project by local artists David Ocelotl Garcia, Rochelle Johnson, Cori Redford, and Carmen Richards. These artists created personal interpretations of four American values—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—articulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the brink of World War II. As a study in contrast that powerfully speaks for itself, their works are displayed alongside archival reproductions of Norman Rockwell’s patriotic interpretations that were widely embraced in the U.S. during and following the war.
Video by Alexis Kikoen courtesy rmpbs.org
Who Gets To Vote?
This special virtual field trip is available temporarily through the History Colorado Center. Students in Fall 2020 explore the Smithsonian’s American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith traveling exhibit to discuss what it means to have the right to vote and to meaningfully participate in a democratic society. Students will also have opportunities to examine what contemporary artists have to say around the Indigenous identity, Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms, and women who have made an impact throughout history by “Behaving Badly.” (Middle and High School.)
For more on women’s suffrage specifically, please check out the 1918 program offered by the Center for Colorado for Women’s History!