Show this post and coupon below at the admissions desk to receive a $3 discount on Museum Admission on Sunday, August 26, 2018.
For the last 45 years, August 26 has been celebrated as Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the day in 1920 when the 19th Amendment went into effect, granting women the right to vote in the United States. When it was designated in 1973, Congress wrote, “the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States.”
Nearly half a century later, the fight for women’s equality continues, including amplifying the roles women have played in American history. That’s where we—and you—come into play!
This Sunday, August 26, visit the New-York Historical Society to experience the stories of a diverse group of influential American women. They braved ridicule, racism, disenfranchisement, and namelessness. They organized workers, performed magic, and crafted iconic art. They knew that the vote was both crucial and not enough, and upon winning suffrage, these women continued chipping away at the many systemic injustices that remained—and what’s more, much of their work has been buried under men’s names or disparagement.
Join us at the Museum on Women’s Equality Day to journey through New-York Historical’s collection, which can help us understand women’s contributions to history, the ways in which history has treated those contributions, and the actions that can still help honor their accomplishments today. Can you find all the items below when you visit the Museum? See you on August 26th to find out!
Suffragist heroes cast in bronze
>> Find it at the special installation Where Are the Monumental Women?
August 26 is the last day to see this model at the New-York Historical Society so make it your first stop! Did you know that currently Central Park has 23 statues of real men in history, but none of women? This maquette, or sculpture model, represents what will be the first statue ever in Central Park that depicts real women! On Women’s Equality Day in 2020, the full-size statue of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony will be unveiled in the Mall, becoming the first monument to memorialize historical women in Central Park—and only the sixth and seventh women to be featured on a statue in the public sphere of New York City.
Created by sculptor Meredith Bergmann, the miniature model (which won the design competition for this planned statue) sits on display in the Smith Gallery near the elevator. Bronze figures of Stanton and Anthony gaze at a document that cascades from their hands and comes to rest on a ballot box, hinting at their decades of writing, speaking, and petitioning for the right to vote.
Norman Rockwell’s painting of Ruby Bridges, the girl who fought for integration
>> Find it in our exhibition Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms
On view through September 4, Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms demonstrates how painter Norman Rockwell captured the fears and hopes of American citizens during the Great Depression, World War II, and the civil rights era. At first, though, his depictions were severely limited: the Saturday Evening Post, which published his Four Freedoms paintings, forbade Rockwell from illustrating people of color in equal station to white people. During the civil rights era, he rejected these kinds of rules and painted clear depictions of struggles against racial discrimination. His painting The Problem We All Live With honors Ruby Bridges, the first African American child to attend William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana in November 1960, leading desegregation efforts.
The painting shows six-year-old Bridges accompanied by guards and facing harassment on her way to school. Rockwell’s visceral details bring to life both the cruelty she endured and her bravery. Bridges has continued to speak and organize for racial equality throughout her life. In 1999, she established the Ruby Bridges Foundation for initiatives in education and cultural awareness. This painting’s position on the cover of Look magazine in 1964 was an important step in honoring Bridges and expanded the America that Rockwell’s paintings recognized.
Laverne Cox graces the cover of Time magazine
>> Find it in our installation Time Inc.: The World in Words and Pictures
After leaving Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms, stroll down the corridor lined with Time magazine covers. On the last cover in the hallway, you’ll see actor and activist Laverne Cox standing tall next to the title “The Transgender Tipping Point,” published in June 2014. The article declared that “another civil rights movement is poised to challenge long-held cultural norms and beliefs.” She was the first openly transgender person on the cover of Time. This broke one visibility barrier for transgender women of color, who, as Cox has spoken about, face a unique brand of bigotry.
Women performed illusions in these dresses
>>Find it in our exhibition Summer of Magic: Treasures from the David Copperfield Collection
The intricate textures and multicolored jewels are not the only impressive things about these costumes, on display in our exhibition Summer of Magic: Treasures from the David Copperfield Collection, just around the corner from Laverne Cox’s cover. The women who wore them performed incredible feats of magic. In the glass rotunda, check out the stage coat Beatrice Houdini wore as the “Queen of Mystery” while performing the infamous Metamorphosis trick with her husband Harry Houdini. In the Smith Gallery, marvel at the gorgeous dress likely worn by Adelaide Herrmann, who was an assistant to her husband Alexander Herrmann before his death. Afterward became renowned as the “Queen of Magic” in her own right.
Women’s March objects showcase a historic moment in activism
>>Find it in our exhibition Collecting the Women’s Marches
Make your way to the second floor to see objects from the 2017 Women’s March on Washington and New York. Though the marches throughout the country in January 2017 were less than two years ago, they have already made an exceptional mark in history as the largest single political demonstration on record. Furthermore, many of the objects pay homage to older events, drawing lines from the 2017 march to a legacy of women’s history and activism. Along with the already iconic pussyhats, this display features more unusual pieces, such as the sashes that the organization Victory Garden created for marchers, combining suffragist aesthetic with a satire on the demeaning nature of beauty pageants.
Women’s stories spun into a new web
>>Find it in our digital exhibition Women’s Voices
The fourth floor holds the New-York Historical Society’s Center for Women’s History. Our colorful digital interactive located right outside the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps reveals a network of remarkable figures. Beliefs, issues, and places unexpectedly link women to one another across the centuries. Brooklyn, for example, connects Ruth Bader Ginsburg to women workers during World War II. What links Audre Lorde to Mabel Lee? How is Linda Sarsour similar to Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton? Tap on names to delve into details and hear oral histories. Of course, the overarching connection among all of them is that they are significant American women whose stories need to be told and heard—and Women’s Voices allows you to do just that.
Billie Jean King wins the “Battle of the Sexes”
>>Find it in our special display of items from the Billie Jean King Archive
Tennis champion Billie Jean King is included in our Women’s Voices digital installation, but her story is further featured through her collection across the hall on the fourth floor. Billie Jean King is a legendary athlete, winning, among other titles, 39 Grand Slams. But she has also been a tireless advocate for gender, LGBTQ, and racial equality. In 1973 she made headlines when she beat Bobby Riggs in the heavily publicized “Battle of the Sexes,” disproving naysayers who doubted women’s competency. In 2016 King donated her archive to the New-York Historical Society, and now we’re thrilled to display her rackets, dresses, and photographs as a testament to her work towards social justice and her swings at sexism.
The Tiffany Girls
>>Find it in our Gallery of Tiffany Lamps
If you’re on the fourth floor, you can’t miss this glowing, gleaming gallery of 100 Tiffany lamps! Though these lamps all have Louis C. Tiffany’s surname on them, many of them—including some of Tiffany Studios’ most popular shades—were designed by Clara Driscoll and manufactured by 30 female workers, who Driscoll oversaw in the Women’s Glass Cutting Department. Examine up close the jewels and metal detailing that bring Driscoll’s famous dragonflies to life, and check out the wisteria shade (one of the company’s bestselling lamps) which she also likely designed. You can see several dragonfly and wisteria lampshades—all with slightly varied color schemes—throughout the gallery.
Forging fashions and labor rights
>>Find it in our Center for Women’s History exhibition Walk This Way: Footwear from the Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes
This exhibition may showcase Stuart Weitzman’s collection, but women’s stories abound in the history of shoes—and not just as shoe-wearers! From colonial women stitchers to “the first lady of shoe design” Beth Levine, the fourth-floor exhibition Walk This Way highlights many types of footwear that were created by women and manufactured by women laborers. Beyond building shoes, stitchers also created the first national union of working women, the Daughters of St. Crispin, who successfully fought wage cuts in 1871.
Women’s history in the classroom
>>Find it in our curriculum guide Women and the American Story
After journeying through women’s history at the Museum, you can keep exploring back at home through our curriculum guide Women and the American Story on our website. The lessons in it provide history teachers new ways to incorporate women into curriculums and allow the public to access the materials online, extending the New-York Historical Society’s commitment to women’s history beyond the walls of its building. In this ongoing project, the Center for Women’s History will continue to release new curriculum guides as it re-centers the American narrative around the women who shaped it.
Don’t forget—show this blog post and coupon at the admissions desk on Women’s Equality Day on Sunday, August 26, 2018, and you’ll receive $3 off your admission ticket. (That means if you bring your whole family, you’ll each get $3 off!) See you then!
Written by Liana Chow
Family Programs Summer Intern, DiMenna Children’s History Museum