"Voices and Vote: Democracy in America"

“Voices and Vote: Democracy in America” is the name of an exhibition coming to a Sarasota library.

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation has teamed up with Florida Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to bring a traveling exhibit of the Smithsonian Institution about voting in America to the county.

The tour begins at Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Public Library, 2801 Newtown Blvd., Sarasota, and is called “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America.”

It is based on a display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C., “and tells the story of America’s democratic form of government,” according to a news release.

“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 historical objects like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material,” it said.

“Voices and Votes” is on display through Oct. 10.

“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 941-861-1360,” it said.

There will be online events as a part of the exhibit. To learn more about the virtual events, visit bit.ly/Voices-Votes-events.

“These programs include book discussions, documentary screenings, and workshops to recognize and lessen the effects of polarization on political conversations,” it said.

“Gulf Coast Community Foundation is honored to partner with Florida Humanities to bring this wonderful educational opportunity to residents here in Sarasota County,” Gulf Coast Community Foundation CEO/President Mark S. Pritchett said. “We hope to inspire our community to engage in conversations about our local history and the story of democracy in America.”

There are six sections in the exhibit, each exploring “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,” according to the news release.

After the North Sarasota Library, it will stop at the Polk County History Center in Bartow will host the exhibition between mid-October and mid-December; The Haitian Heritage Museum in Miami and finish at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum, in Tallahassee, between mid-February until late March, the news release said.

“Florida is one of only four states in the nation to receive this new traveling exhibition,” Florida Humanities Executive Director Steve Seibert said. “Although there is a greater focus on politics during presidential election years, this exhibit proves there are opportunities for citizens to remain engaged every year.”

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