As Election Day gets closer — it’s less than two weeks until November 8, get out and vote! — kids may be wondering what all of the election chaos and debates are about. Older kids are most likely talking about the media clips (many of them really nasty) that seem to run 24/7, especially in this tense election year.
We feel it’s important to educate kids about our democratic process and the country’s history with facts. And where better to accomplish this than our county’s historic institutions and great museums?
Across the U.S., museums are delving into the race to be POTUS via election-themed exhibitions. Visit Philadelphia has put together a great round up of the largest displays in Philadelphia, Washington, DC, New York, and Cleveland.
These five exhibits, many at museums we’ve personally visited and love, have all the info on the decisions, rallies, marketing, music, handshakes and other fascinating details that are part of seeking the highest office in the land. So don’t delay, plan that family trip to show your kids our democracy in action!:
1. Headed to the White House: This exhibit at National Constitution Center in Philadelphia is the only attraction of its kind, uniquely created to engage visitors of all ages with the excitement of the election season. You can join the race, earn the nomination and win the election as artifacts and interactive and hands-on activities take you from the campaign trail and into the Oval Office – all in one visit.
2. Hooray for Politics!: My family recently visited the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. (it’s a favorite) and enjoyed this exhibit which displays historic voting devices alongside contemporary candidate rally signs to encourage visitors to reflect on the relationship between the nation’s democratic traditions and the current swirl of election news.
3. CNN Politics Campaign 2016: Like, Share, Elect: What’s it like to run for president in the social media age? CNN and the Newseum in Washington D.C. delve into the election where candidates and the public can connect like never before—digitally. You can ask your own questions in the #CampaignConfessional and watch other voters from around the country do the same on screen. Instagram photos, media headlines and a display of happening-now issues and events round out the 2016 campaign experience. Undecided voters can even use the “Matchmaker” to determine if their views align more with Clinton or Trump.
4. Campaigning for the Presidency: Here’s another museum we personally visited and loved! The New-York Historical Society Museum & Library in New York City presents more than 120 objects from the Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection in this exhibit. It’s one of the world’s largest holdings of political campaign memorabilia. Board games, posters, T-shirts, paper dresses, stickers and other political swag showcase the ideals, culture, humor, and biting criticisms of the elections between 1960 (Kennedy v. Nixon) and 1972 (Nixon v. McGovern).
5. Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics: The relationship between music and politics plays out at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland at this exhibit. Artifacts, firsthand accounts, media headlines and songs work together to compose the story of music responding to and influencing history—think the Vietnam War, Berlin Wall, #BlackLivesMatter, feminism and political campaigns. Some of the items on display include John Lennon’s guitar from his Bed-In for Peace with Yoko Ono, letters between the FBI and N.W.A.’s record label about the group’s provocative statements on police brutality and handwritten lyrics by Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. And yes, the show covers the misuse of campaign songs!