The Power of 1: exploring democracy in a ground-breaking interactive exhibition | HerCanberra

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The Power of 1: exploring democracy in a ground-breaking interactive exhibition

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When you turn up at the ballot box on election day to cast your compulsory vote, is it something you do because you ‘have to’ or do you truly realise the power that vote holds?

It’s that power of the individual voice that is explored by a ground-breaking new interactive exhibition, launched this week at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. Power of 1: Does your voice count? is an ambitious cross platform project that celebrates the spirit of Australian democracy and the power of individual voice using the voices of the Australian people as curator. It includes a physical exhibition, art installations, a national baseline survey, live online interactive activities, tangible data visualisation, social media and good old fashioned debate to create a unique interactive experience.

[pe2-image src=”–l2XaaarmzY/VGUDUDtC44I/AAAAAAAAMY8/katQ3iWGxoo/s144-c-o/141112-MOAD-Power-Of-One-028.JPG” href=”″ caption=”The Gen Y room is full os suspended iPhones, each with a different display. Photography Stefan Postles 2014.” type=”image” alt=”141112-MOAD-Power-Of-One-028.JPG” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]


The exhibition is based on the results of a national baseline survey conducted by the Museum in conjunction with the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA) at the University of Canberra, that canvasses the four generations: Builders, Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y for their views on democracy and our political system.

But don’t expect the usual presentation of survey results – the exhibition visualises the responses from the baseline survey in a 3D column installation that highlights how different generations respond to similar questions about democracy, and their level of satisfaction with the political system. Visitors to Power of 1 can participate by answering questions through video, audio and text – adding to the content of the exhibition.

This isn’t your usual exhibition – it’s a truly interactive experience, cleverly curated to capture the generations reflected.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Genevieve Jacobs with the Power of 1 panel: Sam Prince (Gen y), Michael Leunig (Builders), Rodney Hall (Baby Boomers), Amanda Whitley (Gen X). Photography Stefan Postles 2014.” type=”image” alt=”141112-MOAD-Power-Of-One-099.JPG” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]


Daryl Karp, Director at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, says the Power of 1 breaks the mould of what visitors might typically expect to find at a museum.

“This exhibition highlights a new direction for the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. Visitors will be able to engage and create contributions that become part of the Power of 1 exhibition. The exhibition will be shaped by the answers you share about what matters to you.”

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Michael Leunig draws his thoughts on democracy in the ‘Builders’ room. Photography Stefan Postles 2014.” type=”image” alt=”141112-MOAD-Power-Of-One-015.JPG” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]


Although many of the exhibitions are ‘fun’ to interact with, underpinning it all is a desire to stimulate discussion about the state of our democracy. In the Builders room, you might write or draw what you like about democracy, or  in the Boomers room you can record a short piece about your dislikes. Type a short reflection about your experiences with democracy into a Commodore 64 keyboard in the Gen X room, or (rather fittingly) take a video selfie in the Gen Y space. It’s a thought provoking exhibition that really makes you think about a concept that we often take for granted.

[pe2-image src=”–3-oF_7N-sU/VGUDTrT64SI/AAAAAAAAMY0/T2uB2-MUpDM/s144-c-o/141112-MOAD-Power-Of-One-026.JPG” href=”″ caption=”Amanda Whitley is confronted by a Commodore 64 in the Gen X room. Photography Stefan Postles 2014.” type=”image” alt=”141112-MOAD-Power-Of-One-026.JPG” pe2_single_image_size=”w614″ pe2_img_align=”center” pe2_caption=”1″ ]


Rachael Coghlan, Executive Producer for the Power of 1 exhibition and Community Engagement Manager at the Museum of Australian Democracy says the exhibition allows visitors to contribute in a number of ways, including completing the democracy survey.

“Responses to the survey will be compared to the baseline data with updates being released throughout the year-­long exhibition. Those that cannot come to the physical exhibition can also participate online on our website or by taking the survey and engaging in the discussion,” says Rachael.

There are some fascinating responses in the survey, including views on compulsory voting, the way Australians engage with political issues and their satisfaction with the current political system. The research shows that Australians have strong views on changes that are needed to our political system, with 41 per cent calling for caps on political advertising and donations and over a third (38 per cent) of all Australians believing that an MP should have a free vote in parliament to represent the views of their constituency, not their party. Almost 1 in 3 Australians (29 per cent) believe that our ballot papers should include a ‘none of the above’ option as a protest vote.


The Tally Room in the Power of 1: Does your voice count? exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy. Photography by Stefan Postles 2014.


Professor Mark Evans, Director and Professor of Governance at IGPA says the survey shows some remarkable similarities in some of the views on politics between generations but stark differences in the way they engage.

“The survey shows that younger generations are as engaged with democracy as our older generations, but they engage in entirely different ways. You are more likely to find young Australians engaging in crowd‐sourced funding for a cause or joining an online advocacy group than marching in a protest.”

Wandering through the column installation in the ‘Tally Room’ really does make you ponder your position on issues that perhaps you haven’t thought about in a while – or at all. How do you feel about local decision making? Would you like to right to recall MPs? Should there be a maximum voting age? These are all important conversations to have as our society continues to evolve. And what better way to start that conversation than with one voice.

the essentials

What: Power of 1: Does your voice count?
Where: Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House
When: Open daily from 9am‐5pm.
Web: The online survey can be taken at

All images by Stefan Postles 2014. Visit Chalk Studio Photography website here.

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