Civic Season Featured Program: In-Gallery Voting for Exhibit by Aurora History Museum
As we count down to Civic Season 2024, we highlight how organizations across the U.S. are joining in this new national celebration.
The Aurora History Museum (AHM) opened its doors in 1979 in a historic building with two small galleries and an office. From the beginning, the Museum has collected and exhibited artifacts and documents pertaining to the history of this community which began as an incorporated town of only four-square miles outside the capital of Denver and has grown to become Colorado’s third-largest city.
2024 Civic Season Featured Event: In-Gallery Voting for Exhibit
Each year for Civic Season, Aurora History Museum has invited visitors to vote on what exhibits to bring to the museum. This has served two important purposes. By selecting previous exhibits to be updated and expanded, it gives the museum a chance to conduct new research but have minimal time needed for writing and layout. More importantly, it is a simple but effective way to discover what visitors were interested in learning more about while also giving them buy-in.
Because visitor surveys at the museum have shown that many of the Gen Z visitors come with children or families, voting that included all ages was determined to be important. For the younger visitors, staff set up voting for a favorite historic site — with language aimed at 3rd graders. This voting is used to shape topics for preschool programs and social media content.
Discover step-by-step how to host your own In-Exhibit Gallery Voting at your organization here.
Joining Civic Season
The Aurora History Museum joined Civic Season in 2021. The first year, the Museum partnered with the local living history group ‘Legendary Ladies’ to create an event focused on women who changed Colorado. In 2022, the Museum wanted to engage the public and created a simple in-gallery vote and a board with questions for visitors to share their views and questions about history.
According to Keith Outcelt, Education Curator, “I’d sum it up as ‘possibilities.’ What might we expect from a vote, a change in law, or changing demographics? Even in our relatively young state we have a lot of examples of what might happen in our history. The successes and missteps of history can help guide us to make better decisions today and in the future.”
As the most diverse city in the state, civics classes for school children have been a part of the museum’s work for the past decade. Expanding this thinking to young adults is new for the organization — but in a city with a high refugee and immigrant population, low average income and low voter turnout, it is an increasingly important part of the Museum’s mission to engage the entire community.