Visitors at downtown Pleasanton's Museum on Main will be able view historic political artifacts and memorabilia with a traveling display arriving to the area this week.
The "California Votes: Exercise Your Right!" exhibition aims to encourage engagement through politics and explain government relations on local, state and national levels. Its nonpartisan content at the Pleasanton museum was selected to simplify concepts around voting in the United States and shine a light on local political action.
"Right now both the right to vote and the integrity of our elections are matters of intense concern at the national level, and California is only partially insulated from that controversy," said exhibit curator Ken MacLennan, who has been with the museum since 2008. "'California Votes' provides clear, accurate information about the state's election process and illuminates the historical context of our voting rights and election systems."
The display will present visitors with maps, historic photographs and information on voting. The timing of the show may be fitting given the upcoming political voting season.
"With the midterm elections coming up in just a few months, it is a particularly apt time to present an exhibit that demystifies California elections," MacLennan said. "The touring show includes images and ephemera from California elections dating back to the mid-19th century, illustrating various aspects of California's election process throughout the state's history."
Exhibit presenters hope to inspire voter turnout and excitement for a wide range of audiences. They have opted to administer "California Votes" in both English and Spanish, giving Spanish speakers the opportunity to enjoy the show as well.
"We welcome the bilingual text because it broadens the exhibit's potential audience," MacLennan said.
The traveling exhibit originated from the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum as "San Joaquin Votes: Exercise Your Right!" The showing was then adapted to a touring exhibit by the nonprofit organization, Exhibit Envoy. The California-based nonprofit delivers traveling exhibits to museums and institutions with the goal of uplifting diverse audiences and communities, according to its website.
The exhibition also features artifacts from the Museum on Main's own collection relating to local elections, campaigns and other political topics.
"We've added campaign memorabilia and election-related items," MacLennan said. Those artifacts include a school-board election ballot box, various pins, flyers, yard signs and other items from past elections from the local to the national levels.
"California Votes" seeks to educate visitors on the history of voting in California and inform them on voting practices and policies.
"We hope that visitors will leave the show with a clearer understanding of California's election process and a strengthened motivation to participate in the political process," MacLennan said.
The Museum on Main features "California Votes: Exercise Your Right!" from this Wednesday (Aug. 17) through Oct. 8. Admission is free for this and other museum displays. To find out more information about the museum and its exhibits, visit museumonmain.org.