07 Jun

The Smithsonian comes to Somerset

Kentucky Humanities, the Center for Rural Development, and the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) will examine the nearly 250-year-old American experiment of a government “of, by, and for the people,” and how each generation since continues to question how to form “a more perfect union.” The Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit Voices and Votes: Democracy in America, which opens SaturdayJune 19, focuses on the action, reaction, vision, and revision that democracy demands as Americans continue to question how to shape the country. 


Voices and Votes will be on display at the Center for Rural Development, 2292 South Highway 27 (at Traffic Light 15) in Somerset, until July 24. The exhibit may be viewed Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and during extended evening and weekend hours when the building is open to the general public. To ensure access to the exhibit on Saturday or Sunday, please call 606-677-6000 to schedule an appointment in advance. 


An opening reception for Voices and Votes will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 19, to welcome the arrival of the exhibit to this region of Kentucky and give the general public its first look at this amazing display. 


Updates and additional information on Voices and Votes can be found on The Center for Rural Development website, and on its Facebook page. 


From the revolution and suffrage, to civil rights and casting ballots, everyone in every community is part of this ever-evolving story—the story of democracy in America. Sections of the Voices and Votes exhibit explore the origins of American democracy, the struggles to obtain and keep the vote, the machinery of democracy, the right to petition and protest beyond the ballot and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Voices and Votes features historical and contemporary photos; educational and archival video; engaging multimedia interactives with short games; and historical objects like campaign souvenirs, voter memorabilia, and protest material.


Voices and Votes is a timely and important exhibit that we are excited to bring to Kentucky,” said Bill Goodman, Executive Director of Kentucky Humanities. “We hope this exhibit will bring communities together to have important conversations about what it means to be an active participant in the governance of their community, their state, and their nation.”


Kentucky Humanities chose The Center for Rural Development to host Voices and Votes as part of the Museum on Main Street project — a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. Museum on Main Street is a partnership of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Federation of State Humanities Councils and state humanities councils nationwide. The United States Congress and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet provide support to the Museum on Main Street project. The exhibition is touring six communities in Kentucky from March 27, 2021through December 11, 2021. 


For information about Voices and Votes and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit


Established in 1996 through the vision of U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, (KY-05), and other leaders, The Center for Rural Development is a nonprofit organization fueled by a mission to provide leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. In its 45-county primary service region, The Center provides innovative programs in leadership, public safety, technology, and arts and culture. The Center is committed to constantly expanding its capabilities in order to deliver a range of key services throughout Kentucky and the nation.