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Flappers and Bootleggers

Submitted by on August 14, 2014 – 8:36 amNo Comment

indiana_indpls_prohibitionAs of January 17, 1920, Americans could no longer manufacture, sell or transport alcohol. The 18th Amendment [Prohibition] became part of the Constitution, holding the same status as freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the abolition of slavery.

Explore this complex and colorful time in America’s history with the new exhibit, “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition“, on view at the Indiana State Museum, 650 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, September 20, 2014 through February 15, 2015.

Created by the National Constitution Center, “American Spirits” spans the dawn of the temperance movement in the early 1800s, through the Roaring ’20s, to the unprecedented repeal of a constitutional amendment during the Great Depression. It includes stories of flappers and suffragists, bootleggers and temperance lobbyists and real-life legends like Al Capone and Carrie Nation.

Indiana’s stories of the temperance movement, Prohibition and the cultural ferment of the 1920s are just as colorful helping to shape the national attitude toward Prohibition. Stories like Billy Sunday’s: he moved his family to Indiana in 1911, evolving from a popular professional baseball player to an evangelical Christian. His strong support of Prohibition played a significant role in the adoption of the 18th Amendment. Other Hoosier stories include legends May Wright Sewall, a leader in Indiana’s woman suffrage movement, who dedicated her life to peace and Grace Julian Clark, an influential writer for the Indianapolis Star, to name a few.

The 5,000-square-foot exhibition, curated by Daniel Okrent, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, features more than 100 rare artifacts; recreated environments (from a church where visitors can hear [and deliver] temperance speeches to a speakeasy where they can learn the Charleston and the slang of the time to a law-enforcement office where visitors can explore efforts to stop bootlegging) and several multimedia experiences.

In addition, the exhibition includes interactives such as 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.

Road Trips Foodies who are bourbon enthusiasts should consider attending Indiana Spirits, a special opening party from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. October 3, 2014. The museum will be transformed into a one-night-only speakeasy where guests can sip with the world’s first female master bourbon taster at a VIP bar, pose for a gangster mugshot, dance to music provided by renowned DJ Ryan Hickey, learn the Charleston and Shimmy, sample local brews, enjoy craft cocktails and much more. Fashion-forward cocktail attire requested.

“American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” is organized and circulated by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

You can see more about the exhibit in this video:

(Photo and video courtesy of Indiana State Museum)

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