The Indiana State Museum dropped a line this morning to announce its big fall show. Called American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, it's a 5,000-square-foot exhibition curated by the National Constitution Center and Daniel Okrent (who wrote a recent popular study of Prohibition, Last Call) and featuring 100-plus rare artifacts, recreated environments (including a church during a temperance speech and a speakeasy) and, from the news release, "Wayne Wheeler's Amazing Amendment Machine, which is a carnival-inspired installation that traces the complex political and legal maneuvering behind the passage of the 18th Amendment." I look forward to figuring out what that means - and whether we can teach other complex periods in American History through carnival-inspired installations (I'm reminded of the opening song to Sondheim's Assassins; you know, "C'mon and kill a president").
The show runs Sept. 20 to Feb. 15, with a speakeasy-themed opening party Oct. 3. Here's a 2012 review of the show's original incarnation by The New York Times. Below are a few featured artifacts from the show:
- A hatchet used by temperance reformer Carry Nation to smash up taverns, 1901. From the Collection of the Kansas Historical Society.
- "Mr. Dry" Bar Set, ca. 1920s. On loan from the Museum of American Political Life, University of Hartford.