The Alabama Voices exhibit is the cornerstone of the redesigned Museum of Alabama, located at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery. ADAH is the nation’s oldest state-funded independent archival and historical agency, and this exhibit represents the culmination of new research, cutting-edge technology, and a fresh vision for interpretation of the state’s history. Opened in February 2014, Alabama Voices covers the span of Alabama history from the 1700s to the beginning of the twenty-first century with a wide range of resources and interpretive elements.
Over a thousand artifacts and hundreds of photographs and documents from Alabama’s past were placed into a broad context incorporating murals, audio, life-size scenery, dioramas, films, and interactive programs that allow visitors of all ages to connect with Alabama’s past in meaningful ways. Extensive research for the exhibition also resulted in thousands of images and documents being scanned and added to the ADAH’s Digital Collections. Museum visitation nearly doubled in 2014, leading Alabama’s Tourism Department to name the Museum of Alabama the state’s Attraction of the Year.
The Alabama History Education Initiative, an outgrowth of research and planning for this exhibit, put digitized objects and accompanying lesson plans into Alabama classrooms. Feedback from visitors and school groups has also shaped revisions and the development of customizable thematic tours.
Alabama Voices is notable not only for its depth of research and responsiveness to the needs of the community, but also for its emphasis on a full telling of Alabama’s past, including difficult history as well as points of pride. The exhibit tackles controversial topics and events with respect and honesty, while presenting a diversity of opinions and viewpoints from Alabamians of all races and beliefs. By combining multiple voices and views with accessible interpretation, Alabama Voices delivers an inclusive account of the state’s history and development that invites visitors to engage with the past and find their story.