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2 Touring History Exhibits To Explore In The Metro East

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.
Rowland Scherman
Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963.

For those who yearn to learn about history through the curation of experts at the Smithsonian but can’t make the trip to Washington, not to worry: The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service has you covered.

Its Museum on Main Street initiative makes scaled-down versions of exhibits currently showcased at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and tours them across the country.

Madison County is the first stop for the “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America” exhibit in Illinois. Exploring the themes and evolution of the United States’ political system, it’s co-hosted by the Madison County Historical Society and Madison County Government in partnership with Illinois Humanities.

Matt Meacham joined Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air.
Evie Hemphill / St. Louis Public Radio
Matt Meacham joined Tuesday's "St. Louis on the Air."

"It's an opportunity for rural Illinoisans and rural Americans to see really world-class exhibitions from the Smithsonian in their own backyards," Matt Meacham, program manager for Illinois Humanities, explained to St. Louis on the Air. "But it's also a great opportunity for the local organizations that host these exhibitions to really hone their skills in planning programs and raise their profile within their community ... and just expand their capacities in many ways."

To correspond with the touring exhibit, Illinois Humanities is presenting “Illinois Freedom Project” exhibit in similar areas. It highlights the pursuit of civil rights by and for African Americans in Illinois.

"It was created and curated by a couple of excellent public historians from Springfield, Illinois, as kind of an outgrowth of a program that they organized to expose younger people to historic sites related to Black history in Illinois and some of these narratives that you might not have a chance to learn if you read a standard textbook," Meacham said.

Both exhibitions will visit six Illinois communities concurrently between now and March 2022. On Tuesday’s show, host Sarah Fenske explored their themes in conversation with Meacham.

Listen to the full discussion:

Smithsonian, Illinois Humanities Exhibits Start Their Statewide Tours In Edwardsville
Listen as host Sarah Fenske talks with Illinois Humanities' Matt Meacham.

Related Events
What: Voices and Votes: Democracy in America
When: Now through Aug. 20
Where: Madison County Administration Building (157 N. Main St., Edwardsville, IL 62025)
Full list of dates and locations here

What: Illinois Freedom Project
When: Now through Aug. 20
Where: Wood River Museum and Visitors Center (40 W. Ferguson Ave., Wood River, IL 62095)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Paola Rodriguez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.