In honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote, three Nashville women – Margaret Behm, Jeanie Nelson and Juli Mosely – had a vision to create an interactive exhibit to celebrate and tell the story of the 19th Amendment, which was ratified to the U.S. Constitution when Tennessee cast a tie-breaking vote. Dowdle Construction Group was selected to undertake this special public project in Nashville Public Library’s main location downtown: the Votes For Women exhibit.
Designed by Kem Hinton, Tuck Hinton Architecture & Design, the 2,400-square-foot build-out works with the library’s notable classical design and repurposes much of the existing room and alcoves, while opening up the space to make it feel larger. We also refinished some of the original elements, such as the existing wood trim, and created custom door hardware and butt-glazed glass accents. Our goal was to keep the building’s character intact, while adding some modern touches.
The permanent display commemorates the nearly 80-year struggle that women underwent to obtain the right to vote. Located across the hall from the Civil Rights Room (also designed by Tuck Hinton in 2001) and down the hall from the Children’s Area at the Nashville Public Main Library (another project of ours), the new exhibit room gives visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the entire suffragist history as well as the present day understanding of the activist movement.
The exhibit features six interactive digital experiences, including an interactive voting exercise, a timeline of the history of women’s suffrage and four themed alcoves with accompanying displays.
The spotlight piece of the room is a uniquely designed interactive sitting area known as the “Halo of Inspiration.” The Halo was meticulously constructed to ensure the circular panel hanging from the ceiling is exactly symmetrical with the LED panel walls as well as the flooring.
The Nashville Public Library celebrated the virtual grand opening of Votes for Women in August 2020. The space is a real treasure for the community, and it was a privilege to have been a part of it.
“I can’t tell you enough how much it meant for your company to construct this room. I had total confidence that it would be right with the care the room deserved,” said Margaret Behm. “It is magnificent and dynamic. Thank you for honoring the room in this way and for giving your expertise and dedication to the project.”