Spirited: Prohibition in America
In a tumultuous era spanning 13 years, Americans could no longer manufacture, sell, or transport intoxicating beverages. Prohibition was now a part of the Constitution, holding the same status as freedom of speech and the abolition of slavery. Ratified in 1919, the 18th Amendment stirred up a passionate and sometimes volatile debate between “wets” and “drys” that will forever cement Prohibition’s place in history.
Spirited: Prohibition in America brings visitors back to this period of flappers and suffragists, bootleggers and temperance lobbyists, and real-life legends, such as Al Capone and Carry Nation.
Adapted from the National Constitution Center’s flagship exhibition, Spirited explores the history of Prohibition, from the dawn of the temperance movement to the unprecedented repeal of a constitutional amendment in 1933. What made the country go “dry” and how did America change during this period in history? Visitors to Spirited will learn about the amendment process, the role of liquor in American culture, the cultural revolution of the roaring ’20s, and how liquor laws vary from state to state today.
The morality and illegalization of liquor split American opinion and created a subculture of rampant criminality. Organized crime grew from localized enterprises to a national network for manufacturing, distribution, and sales of alcohol. The issue catalyzed a number of federal regulations and the passing of the Volstead Act, but little resources were provided for enforcement. Spirited draws on histories told from both sides of the law. Through strong visual and interactive elements, the exhibition demonstrates how America went from a nation drowning in liquor in the 1800s, to campaigns of temperance, and the upswing and downfall of outlawing prohibition.
The exhibition surveys the inventive and ingenious ways lawmakers and the American public responded to Prohibition. Legal provisions for sacramental wine, medicinal alcohol, and the preservation of fruit and the efforts of breweries to stay in business led to popularization of products such as “Dr. Welch’s Unfermented Wine,” “near beer,” and Coca-Cola. Visitors will learn how transportation networks and clever disguises were used to run liquor from state to state, how speakeasies gave way to the popularization of jazz, and the Charleston dance craze.
Spirited features semi-immersive environments that encompass the sights, sounds, and experiences of this fascinating period in American history. Hosting venues will receive educational and public programming materials that outline ideas for interactive workshops on “speakeasy slang,” ’20s-themed socials, speaker suggestions for topics, such as the women’s suffrage movement, and lesson plans on today’s battle with drugs and alcohol.
Spirited: Prohibition in America is touring June 2014–May 2019.
This exhibition is fully booked. Please inquire about being added to its waiting list.
Contact: MoreArt@maaa.org or (800) 473-3872, ext. 208
June 16–August 11, 2014
Living History Farms
Urbandale, IA booked
September 1–October 20, 2014
Tampa Bay History Center
Tampa, FL booked
November 10, 2014–January 7, 2015
Butler County History Museum/Kansas Oil Museum
El Dorado, KS booked
January 28–March 16, 2015
Carthage, TX booked
April 6–May 25, 2015
Wyandotte County Historical Society & Museum
Bonner Springs, KS booked
June 16–August 11, 2015
William F. Laman Public Library
North Little Rock, AR booked
September 1–October 20, 2015
Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum
Wichita, KS booked
November 10, 2015–January 7, 2016
Museum of History and Art
Ontario, CA booked
January 28–March 16, 2016
Brigham City Museum
Brigham City, UT booked
April 6–May 25, 2016
Rolling Hills Consolidated Library
St. Joseph, MO booked
June 16–August 11, 2016
West Baton Rouge Museum
Port Allen, LA booked
September 1–October 20, 2016
Kansas City, MO booked
November 10, 2016–January 7, 2017
Fullerton Museum Center
Fullerton, CA booked
January 28–March 16, 2017
Washakie Museum & Cultural Center
Worland, WY booked
April 6–May 25, 2017
Park City Museum
Park City, UT booked
June 16–August 11, 2017
Branigan Cultural Center
Las Cruces, NM booked
September 1–October 20, 2017
Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research & Studies
Athens, GA booked
November 10, 2017–January 7, 2018
Coronado Quivira Museum/Rice County
Lyons, KS booked
January 28–March 16, 2018
Upcountry History Museum
Greenville, NC booked
April 6–May 25, 2018
Lyman Allyn Art Museum
New London, CT booked
June 16–August 11, 2018
Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center
Enid, OK booked
September 1–October 20, 2018
Joliet Area Historical Museum
Joliet, IL booked
November 10, 2018–January 7, 2019
The High Desert Museum
Bend, OR booked
January 28–March 16, 2019
The History Museum
South Bend, IN booked
April 6–May 25, 2019
Chippewa Valley Museum
Eau Claire, WI booked
Exhibition Details & Specifications
The National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA in collaboration with Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
Organized ByThe National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance, Kansas City, MO
The exhibition will feature several freestanding units focused on thematic areas; a collection of objects, artifacts, photographs, and paper ephemera; audio/video features; interactive stations, semi-immersive environment settings; and wall-mounted banners and graphics.
On-site support is free to the opening venue for every new NEH on the Road exhibition and to first-time hosting venues on a limited basis.
Each exhibitor is responsible for the first $1,000 of the outgoing shipping fee to the next venue; NEH on the Road covers the remainder.
Number of Crates/Total Weight
The exhibition is fully insured by NEH on the Road at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.