Exhibition Sites

As the United States approaches the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, museums are searching for ways to engage their local communities with connections to the history of our nation. They are seeking ways to tell multivocal stories of our past, to embrace all the people who live in their communities regardless of race, religion, or nation of origin; and how to engage their communities with stories of those excluded from democratic processes, whether historical marginalized, enslaved, incarcerated, or members of Native Nations on unceded lands.

Twelve museums across the New York State will use the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street Exhibition Voices and Votes: Democracy in America as a launching point for “A New Agora for New York” series of humanities programs.

These museums will host the Voices and Votes exhibition for six weeks, install an exhibition from their collections related to project themes, and present three public programs: Community Conversations, Scholar Lectures, and Teacher Workshops.

“A New Agora for New York: Museums as Spaces for Democracy” programs will explore the context and main controversies behind our democratic system including the principles and events that inspired the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the struggle for civil rights, voting rights, and equal participation in our democracy; the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens; and the formal and informal processes of our political systems.

Humanities New York will work with MANY and the twelve museums to produce Community Conversation programs that will focus on the relationship between democracy and republican institutions, between the dynamism of the former and the regularity of the latter and will use a critical humanities lens to explore the influence of the past not just on the present, but also on the different futures of the public imagination. HNY staff will work with staff at the selected museums to teach them how to implement their own Community Conversations the day after the Community Conversations public program. Community Conversations programs promote dialogue by bringing people together to join in a facilitated discussion. These discussions will use a short humanities-based text centered on an aspect of American identity.

Museums will collect and share stories from multiple generations about voting, collective action, and civil disobedience, the power of the press, national identity, diversity, citizenship, and civil rights.

New York State Museum Curators and Museum Educators will lead teacher training workshops hosted by the twelve museums that will demonstrate how exhibitions, works of art, archives, and objects of material culture can be used as primary resources in the classroom to enhance student learning.

Project Participants and Host Sites

Preservation Long Island exterior

Preservation Long Island

Cold Spring Harbor, NY
March 24 - May 3, 2024

Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site exterior

Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site

Sackets Harbor, NY
May 17 - June 28, 2024

National Women's Hall of Fame exterior

National Women's Hall of Fame

Seneca Falls, NY
July 12 - August 23, 2024

RHJC Center with Jackson statue

Robert H. Jackson Center

Jamestown, NY
September 6 - October 18, 2024

Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica NY


Utica, NY
November 11 - December 13, 2024

Alice Austen House Museum exterior

Alice Austen House Museum

Staten Island, NY
December 27, 2024 - February 7, 2025

Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages exterior

The Long Island Museum

Stony Brook, NY
February 20 - April 6, 2025

Onondaga Historical Association / Skä-ñonh Great Law of Peace Center exterior

Skä•noñh Great Law of Peace Center / Onondaga Historical Association

Liverpool, NY
April 18 - May 30, 2025

Genesee Country Village Museum building exterior

Genesee Country Village & Museum

Mumford, NY
June 3 - July 25, 2025

Michigan Avenue African American Heritage Corridor Memorial Arch, Buffalo, New York

Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor

Buffalo, NY
August 8 - September 19, 2025

Exterior of the Chemung County Historical Society

Chemung County Historical Society

Elmira, NY
October 3 - November 14, 2025

Underground Railroad Education Center exterior

Underground Railroad Education Center

Albany, NY
November 28, 2025 - January 9, 2026