Museum Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage With Exhibitions and More
To mark the centennial of women’s suffrage, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will celebrate the “Year of the Woman” in 2020 with two signature exhibitions designed to amplify women’s crucial role in history. On March 6, the museum will open “Creating Icons: How We Remember Women’s Suffrage,” and “Girlhood (It’s Complicated)” will open June 12.
The exhibitions will be mounted as part of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative #BecauseOfHerStory. The initiative represents one of the country’s most ambitious efforts to collect, document, display and share the compelling story of women, deepening the understanding of women’s contributions to the nation and the world. It amplifies women’s voices to honor the past, inform the present and inspire the future. (Information is available at https://womenshistory.si.edu.)
The spotlight on women’s contributions will shine on other museum projects throughout 2020, including “Picturing Women Inventors,” a display celebrating the contributions of female inventors; “The Only One in the Room,” a showcase exploring women in business as part of the “American Enterprise” exhibition; and a focus on diverse female educators in the “Giving in America” exhibit. A variety of women’s history programs, and digital and education initiatives will expand this content.
The suffrage centennial exhibitions tie into other museum efforts under the tagline “Who Counts?” demonstrating that women’s history is political history. “Who Counts?” will link the museum’s efforts in collecting, documenting and creating civic engagement programs around the 2020 election, the census, the 15th Amendment and the 19th Amendment. The central messages of “Who Counts?” are broad and provide probing questions about the relationship between citizenship, resources and counting; how categories of belonging and exclusion are created and re-created over time; and how individuals and groups assert that they do count.
Exhibitions and Displays Opening in 2020
“Creating Icons: How We Remember Women’s Suffrage” Opens March 6, 2020; closes March 2021
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which recognized women’s right to vote, the museum will open “Creating Icons: How We Remember Women’s Suffrage.” Highlighting women’s achievements in winning suffrage, it invites audiences to explore how the country celebrates milestones, what people as a nation remember, what (and who) has been forgotten or silenced over time and how those exclusions helped create the cracks and fissures in a movement that continue to impact women’s politics and activism.
Using a jewel box approach, the museum will display a group of artifacts in conjunction with graphics and media, interweaving stories of the famous and the forgotten. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be a 6-foot-tall portrait of Susan B. Anthony. Painted by Sarah J. Eddy in 1900, the work depicts an idealized Anthony being presented with flowers by young boys and girls on her 80th birthday. The exhibition will also feature items donated between 1919 and 1920 by the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (now the League of Women Voters), materials related to Adelaide Johnson and Alice Paul, and contemporary items from the 2017 Women’s March as well as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s gavel.Continue reading