American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith
June 17, 2023–October 8, 2023
Tuesday–Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
520 Royal Street, Tricentennial Wing, 1st and 3rd Floors
Free ticketed admission

About the Exhibition

In 1776, many colonists made a great leap to a new idea: maybe they could do without monarchy and aristocracy. If they could unite with one another, “the common people” of the colonies might form a more equal society and government. American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, examines the continuing evolution of America’s experiment in a government “of, by, and for the people.” The exhibition will be on view at The Historic New Orleans Collection from June 17, 2023, to October 8, 2023. Admission is free.  

Drawn from the permanent exhibition of the same name at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, American Democracy explores the challenges and triumphs that generations of Americans encountered as they sought to create a government based on the sovereignty of the people. It explores the history of citizen participation, debate, and compromise from the nation’s formation to today.  

Featuring engaging multimedia experiences, immersive design, and artifacts from the Smithsonian Institution, state historical organizations, and The Historic New Orleans Collection, American Democracy demonstrates that self-government relies on every citizen’s active participation in the quest to form a “more perfect union.” Exhibition sections explore the origins of American democracy, the changing identity of eligible voters, the machinery of democracy, the right to petition and protest beyond the ballot, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.  

A companion exhibition, "Yet She Is Advancing”: New Orleans Women and the Right to Vote, 1878–1970, will be on view April 28, 2023, to November 5, 2023. Expanding on a 2020 virtual exhibition on THNOC’s website, the exhibition tells a decades-long story through objects, images, documents, and interactive displays—and through the words of the New Orleans women who for nearly 100 years persisted in their struggle to obtain the vote.