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Special Exhibits

Path to Presidency 500b

March 1 - October 9, 2016

Step into a candidates’ shoes during this special exhibit that gives visitors a fun, interactive peek into past presidential campaigns, the changing face of the American electorate, and a glimpse at life on the campaign trail. This entertaining exhibit brings historic campaigns to life with artifacts, documents, photos, videos, and many other interesting components. 

Admission into special exhibits and special programs on the day of attendance is included with your Museum admission ticket.


  • Practice your candidate handshake on our “Grip-o-Meter.” Candidates have to master—and repeat thousands of times a day—the handshake, a deceptively simple interaction that speaks volumes. Learn a few of the tricks help candidates stay glad while glad-handing.
  • Pose for your own campaign poster. After seeing iconic posters from past presidential campaigns, choose a slogan and say “cheese” as you create your own.
  • Weigh in on key issues from campaigns past, then build your own platform and discover which parties have most closely aligned with your own views.
  • Watch iconic campaign TV ads and historic debate moments in our 1960s “living room” theater.
    Podium Kid
    After selecting a campaign slogan and posing for your own campaign poster, deliver your acceptance speech to a roaring crowd using a real teleprompter.

    Don't forget to swing by the full-size replica of the Oval Office and sit behind the famous Resolute Desk.

  • Deliver your acceptance speech. A candidate’s acceptance speech is a fresh opportunity to energize the party faithful and woo undecided voters. Test your skills by delivering a portion of a historic acceptance speech from the teleprompter.
  • Become a voter in history and follow that person's road to voting rights. Voting allows the diversity of the United States to speak with a unified voice. But as you’ll see, diverse voices have not always been represented in the political conversation.
  • Take a look at a letter written by George Washington about why he would not seek a third term, the sunglasses worn by Bill Clinton while playing sax on the Arsenio Hall Show, famous campaign medals and buttons dating back to the 1800s, and many other artifacts that help tell the story of how presidential campaigns have changed the course of our nation.

BONUS:  Sit in the seat of power. Take a seat behind the Resolute Desk in a full-size replica of the White House Oval Office.

Besides the sunglasses worn by Bill Clinton while playing sax on the Arsenio Hall Show, many other fun and interesting artifacts help tell the story of how presidential campaigns have changed the course of our nation.

The exhibit is generously sponsored by Al and Connie Herbert and made possible by contributions from The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History; the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; the Harlan Crow Library; the Hervey A. Priddy private collection; Dr. Allen Frey; The Wright Family Collection, Museum of Democracy; William J. Clinton Presidential Library; Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum; and the LBJ Presidential Library. Learn more about the history of campaigns and elections in the United States through the National Archives' online exhibit, Running for Office: Candidates, Campaigns, and the Cartoons of Clifford Berryman.


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