American Spirits: Exhibit Experience

For immediate release

Release dated: 
August 5, 2013
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3148 • jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Julianna Olsen • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3039 • julianna.olsen@mnhs.org

American Spirits: Exhibit Experience

“American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition,” at the Minnesota History Center, Nov. 9, 2013 – March 16, 2014.

“American Spirits” spans the origins of American drinking habits, the passion behind the passage of the 18th Amendment and its repeal, and Prohibition’s legacy today.

America’s Drinking Problem

  • See a stunning visual of American alcohol consumption in the mid-1800s, which was three times greater than current levels;
  • sit in a recreated early 1900s church to learn about the rise of the Anti-Saloon League and take a quiz to find out if you would have been a “wet” or a “dry;”
  • take your photo with a temperance worker and a suffragist;
  • and view artifacts including Anheuser-Busch branded glasses and artwork, temperance propaganda and an oak and steel hatchet used by Carry Nation during one of her barroom-smashing raids.

Amendment 18

  • Explore Wayne Wheeler’s Amazing Amendment Machine, a dazzling 20-foot-long, eight-foot-tall carnival-inspired contraption that traces how Wayne Wheeler, chief lobbyist for the Anti-Saloon League, led the temperance effort in calling for a constitutional amendment;
  • test your knowledge of what could and could not be consumed under the Volstead act during the “Is it Legal?” interactive touch screen game;
  • and view Minnesota’s joint resolution ratifying the 18th Amendment.

The Drys and Wets

  • Enter a re-created speakeasy with a bar and dance floor where you can learn how to dance the Charleston;
  • play the role of a federal Prohibition agent chasing rumrunners in a custom-built video game where you drive your own speedboat;
  • enter a criminal lineup to get your mugshot taken alongside Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, then email the keepsake photo to yourself;
  • plus, see original Jazz Age fashions including flapper dresses and a man’s suit once owned by a dapper Minnesotan; Prohibition agent Eliot Ness’ signed oath of office; and a bootlegger still and flasks made to look like everyday items including a book, camera and cigar case.

Repeal the 18th!

  • Sit in a 1930s-style theater to view celebrations following the return of legal beer in April 1933;
  • see photos of American’s toasting the repeal in December 1933;
  • and get a closeup look at Minnesota’s original copy of the 21st Amendment.

The Legacy of Prohibition

  • See a large United States map highlighting Prohibition’s lasting effects across the country and how the laws regarding alcohol vary by state, with an emphasis on Minnesota’s laws today.