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Step back in time to an era of flappers and suffragists, bootleggers and temperance workers, and real-life legends like Al Capone and Carry Nation. Created by the National Constitution Center, American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is the first comprehensive exhibition about America’s most colorful and complex constitutional hiccup. Spanning from the dawn of the temperance movement, through the Roaring ’20s, to the unprecedented repeal of a constitutional amendment, the exhibition brings the whole story of Prohibition vividly to life. Experience the Prohibition era through:
  • Original ratification copies of the 18th and 21st Amendments
  • A hatchet used by Carry Nation during one of her barroom-smashing raids
  • A Prohibition Bureau Badge issued by the Department of Justice in 1931
  • Temperance propaganda, including pamphlets, school lesson manuals, speeches, and hymnals
  • The phone used by Roy Olmstead, the defendant in the landmark Olmstead v. United States wiretapping case, to run his bootlegging empire
  • Flapper dresses, cocktail couture, and other women’s and men’s fashion accessories from the 1920s
  • Original home manufacturing items used for making homebrewed beer, moonshine, and other illegal and highly potent liquor
  • Prohibition agent Eliot Ness’ signed oath of office from 1926 in which he swore to “support and defend the Constitution”
  • Al Capone’s guilty verdict from his 1931 conviction in Chicago
  • One of the first crates of Budweiser produced after the “Beer Act,” which passed in April 1933
Interactive elements and immersive environments will bring the sights, sounds, and experiences of the time period to life. Wayne Wheeler’s Amazing Amendment Machine, a dazzling 20-foot-long, eight foot-tall carnival-inspired contraption, will trace how the temperance movement culminated in the 18th Amendment. In addition, visitors can:
  • Sit in a pew of a recreated early 1900s church to learn about the rise of the Anti-Saloon League and take a quiz to find out if they would have been a “wet” or a “dry”
  • Explore a recreated speakeasy complete with a bar, dance floor, bandstand, and powder room and learn how to dance the Charleston
  • Play the role of a federal Prohibition agent chasing rum-runners in a custom-built video game where they drive their own speedboat
  • Join gangsters in a criminal lineup for a memorable photo opportunity.

American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is curated by Daniel Okrent, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.

The exhibit is supported locally by the Douglas County Visitor Improvement Fund, Rhonda and Howard Hawks, the John K. and Lynne D. Boyer Foundation, Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation, the Durham Society, the Dillon Foundation, Ann and Ken Stinson, the Mammel Foundation, Fraser Stryker PC LLO, and the Burlington Capital Foundation. Media support provided by KMTV Channel 3.