Every four years, like clockwork, American presidential hopefuls hit the ‘campaign trail’.

While they spar with one another over issues, behind the scenes their campaigners work on encouraging voter participation through television ads, endorsement calls, and providing ‘vote for me’ buttons, posters, and other political paraphernalia.

When it’s all over, though, what happens to all the campaign paraphernalia? After all, it’s not like it can be recycled again in another four years.

Most, sadly, will end up in the trash.

But some will get stashed away by collectors to be eventually given or loaned out to museums.

That’s the case with an exhibition currently being held at the South Florida Museum. Their limited time only ‘Vote for Me! Vote for Me! features vintage and rare presidential campaign artifacts provided by a local collector.

Travelers to Texas, however, can find a more permanent display of presidential campaign paraphernalia at Odessa’s Presidential Museum and Leadership Library.

In Washington D.C., the Newseum is running a ‘Every Four Years: Presidential Campaigns and the Press’ exhibition that looks at how campaign media coverage has evolved since 1896.   The highlight of this exhibition is a100 foot wide video screen showing original televised campaign ads, many of which will seem tame now but were highly controversial at the time they were shown.

And for those who want to be part of political history as it occurs, New York artist Jonathan Horowitz has created the “Your Land/My Land: Election ‘12” installation consisting of an empty space featuring red and blue area rugs that represent America’s color coded political divide. Suspended between the rugs are back-to-back monitors, one of which will show Fox News, the other CNN, as well as portraits of the two candidates.This interactive electoral exhibition/forum can be found at a number of museums across the country. Visitors are encouraged to gather on the rugs to talk and discuss politics while watching the news coverage.

(image by L. Allen Brewer via flickr

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