Go early and often to the new interactive, ever-changing, year-long exhibit at the Indiana History Center. No matter how you feel about political parties, issues, candidates, laws, lobbyists, voting or taxes, there’s something here to tease you into thinking beyond the ballot box, expressing your point of view, including your “ideal” president and perhaps saying, “I didn’t know that.”
Along with the expected campaign memorabilia and touting of famous Hoosiers on the national scene, you’ll get a taste of what it feels like to be denied the right to vote, how advertising molds you into a frame of mind, why music is a candidate’s mainstay, when political cartoons get your goat or your vote.
“Whether they believe it or not, everyone is involved in politics,” says Faith Revell, director of exhibitions at the Indiana Historical Society. “Just living is political in nature.” That includes the water you drink, streets you drive along, schools you attend, food you eat, mail you send, wars you fight in. Some level of government is regulating, providing, monitoring, deciding. So, unless all you want to do is complain after the fact, you’d better consider being proactive, Revell says. “This exhibit is a catalyst to talk, think, do research. Get out of the chair, off the sofa. Become involved.”
Changing every four months will be the exhibits about movers and shakers from the onset of statehood to the present. Newspaper political cartoons across the state also will rotate, as will political artifacts such as campaign buttons and the expansive Lincoln collection. “We’re sharing compelling stories about enduring issues,” Revell says. What’s important to us today has echoes to the 18th and 19th centuries. “Politics is about people.”
Personalizing and putting issues and events into context is the compelling interactive part of the exhibit, along with some innovative design elements. Open those refrigerator doors for cool facts. It’s free, with on-site parking. Politics: Beyond the Ballot Box runs through Dec. 31. Also check out the free public programs, including Wednesdays at noon, March 10, April 21, May 19. Visit www.indianahistory.org; 232-1882.