Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Return of Prohibition in Grand Rapids

From 1920 to 1933, America experienced the colorful era of Prohibition—when the dry intentions of the Temperance movement led to the Roaring '20s. 

And while it took over 60 years for Prohibition to be ratified, it took only 13 years for it to fail. In a town with such a passion for beer, I am not surprised Michigan was the first state to sign for the repeal of the 18th Amendment.
The first amendment to ever come undone, the exhibit "American Spirits"—now showing at the Grand Rapids Public Museum—explores how Prohibition changed America. The exhibit was created by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and will be visiting Grand Rapids until January 17th.
Prohibition was clearly an overwhelming failure, but without this constitutional blip, we'd have missed a culturally significant era of American history. From the fashion of the flappers, to the big band sounds of the speakeasies, race and gender lines began to blur and interact.

But organized crime and corruption reigned, and as America entered the Great Depression, the economy demanded prohibition come to an end. 

The "American Spirits" exhibit is a stand-out museum productioninformative, beautifully designed, and interactive in creative and appropriate ways. It includes drink recipes, dance tutorials, ipad quizzes and photo ops.  I'm impressed with how museums have evolved beyond trinkets in glass cases with boring small print signsinto exhibitions that involve all the senses.

And though I went to the museum specifically to see American Spirits, I just couldn't help myself—I just had to walk through old-timey Grand Rapids. The streets were all decorated for Christmas with a display of Santas from around the world. In our ever changing city, it's nice to look back on where we came from and imagine it as it was.

So sneak into the Grand Rapids Public Museum before the holidays and you'll get a bonus Beautiful old Santas on the streets of old Grand Rapids as well as American Spirits: The Rise and fall of Prohibition.

And then head out in Grand Rapids to have a cocktail at one of your favorite bars. Just because... you can. 
*There may also be a King Tut exhibit on, but i didn't make it all the way upstairs. 

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