Calendar of Events and Exhibitions: February 2020

January 10, 2020

Editor’s Note: All programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. Visitors should be prepared for a security check upon entrance to the museum. Program attendees should arrive 30 minutes in advance. For a complete schedule of activities check:

2020 “Year of the Woman” Women’s History Exhibitions
“Creating Icons: How We Remember Woman’s Suffrage”
Opens March 6, 2020; closes May 2, 2021
Nicholas F. and Eugenia Taubman Gallery
Second Floor, West
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.
“Who Pays for Education?”
Thematic Case in “Giving in America”
Opens March 18, 2020; closes TBD
Third Floor, Center
Philanthropy to support education is the focus of the updated exhibition “Giving in America,” which looks at the historical role of philanthropy in shaping the United States. Since the nation’s beginning, Americans have grappled with who gets educated and who pays for education. The update will feature objects from women educators like Nannie Helen Burroughs, who founded the National Training School for Women and Girls in 1909 in Washington, D.C., and an Oklahoma teacher who made headlines for her roadside fundraising sign in 2017.
“The Only One in the Room”
New Perspectives Case in “American Enterprise”
Opens April 16, 2020; closes April 2021
First Floor, West
“American Enterprise” chronicles the tumultuous interaction of capitalism and democracy that resulted in the continual remaking of American business—and American life. The “Only One in the Room” in the exhibit’s New Perspectives case will illuminate eight businesswomen and female entrepreneurs who broke through tremendous barriers in their industries to create, innovate and provide an opening for others to follow. This case offers an opportunity to explore the trials and
and contexts of women such as Lillian Vernon, founder of a major mail-order business; Sara Sunshine, part of the first wave of Hispanic advertising executives in the early 1960s; and geneticist Mary-Dell Chilton, who battled sexism in science.
“Girlhood (It’s Complicated)”
Opens June 12, 2020; closes Jan 2, 2023
Second Floor, East
The history of girlhood is not what people think; it is complicated. Young women are often told that girls are “made of sugar and spice and everything nice.” What is learned from history is that girls are made of stronger stuff. They have changed history. From Helen Keller to Naomi Wadler, girls have spoken up, challenged expectations and been on the frontlines of social change. Through their lives, what it means to be a girl—and a woman—has always been part of the American conversation. “Girlhood (It’s Complicated)” will showcase unexpected stories of girlhood, engaging the audience in timely conversations about women’s history.
With a design inspired by zines, the 5,000-square-foot gallery will have five story sections: Education (Being Schooled), Wellness (Body Talk), Work (Hey, Where’s My Girlhood?), Fashion (Girl’s Remix), plus seven biographical interactives stories, “A Girl’s Life.” The design will feature custom murals and illustrations by artist Krystal Quiles. The exhibition will tour the country through the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service from 2023 through 2025.
“Picturing Women Inventors”
Opens May 2020; closes TBD
Lower Level
Featuring stories of contemporary and historic women, this display is dominated by lively, larger-than-life images of female inventors. For many, the word “inventor” recalls images of men like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, but inventors come from every demographic and segment of society. Challenging pre-conceived notions about gender and innovation, “Picturing Women Inventors” looks at women inventors, visionaries and scientists at work. The stories of inventive women have been overlooked, undervalued and sometimes lost, not least because they have lacked the support and backing necessary to secure patents and develop inventions into marketable products or services. The display is meant to inspire with stories about what women inventors have accomplished and how their breakthroughs are part of people’s daily lives.
Women’s History Programs
Throughout the year, the museum will present special programs, including “Women in Jazz” during April’s Jazz Appreciation Month. The museum’s robust theater program allows visitors to engage with a National Women’s Party suffragist as she gathers supporters (and convinces dissenters) of a woman’s equal right to vote as well as with the “wheelwoman.” The wheelwoman character engages visitors in the history of the Good Roads and Rational Dress movements, as well as how the bicycle helped shape the women’s liberation movement, women’s suffrage and better transportation. The museum’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation will bring Paralympic skier Sarah Will to its “Innovative Lives” program in May. For updated program listings, visit
February Events
Day of Remembrance Pop-Up Exhibit
“Contested Histories: Art and Artifacts from the Allen Hendershott Eaton Collection”
Feb. 19; 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
SC Johnson Conference Center
First Floor, West
This pop-up exhibit on loan from the Japanese American National Museum contains objects from the contested collection of Japanese American artifacts collected by curator Allen Hendershott Eaton from incarceration sites in 1945. It will be on view for one day only at the museum.
Day of Remembrance Panel Discussion
“Not for Sale: Preserving and Sharing Community Collection”
Feb. 19; 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Wallace H Coulter Performance Plaza
First Floor, West
In observance of the Day of Remembrance—President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1942 signing of Executive Order 9066 and subsequent incarceration of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans­—the museum will host a panel discussion on the Allen Hendershott Eaton collection and the 2015 public auction of these artifacts that was halted by a grassroots protest, leading to their acquisition by a community-based institution, which raised questions about authority, community and provenance.
Speakers include: Clement Hanami, curator at the Japanese American National Museum; Shirley Ann Higuchi, chair, Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation; Nancy Ukai, project director, 50 objects; David Inoue, executive director, Japanese American Citizens League and Larry Oda (invited) president, National Japanese American Memorial Foundation. The panel will be moderated by Ann Burroughs, director, Japanese American National Museum.
“Cooking Up History: Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking”
Guest Chef: Toni Tipton-Martin
Feb. 21; 1 p.m.
Wallace H Coulter Plaza Performance Kitchen
First Floor, West
Culinary journalist, author, and community activist Toni Tipton-Martin will share research and recipes from her cookbook, Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking. She will reveal the history of women chefs and home cooks while instructing how to prepare their historic recipes in a modern kitchen. After the demonstration, Tipton-Martin will sign copies of her cookbook which will be available for purchase on site.
Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
“Innovative Lives: Adaptive skateboarding, WCMX and Inventing Your Own Path”
Feb 5; 6 p.m.
Wallace H Coulter Performance Plaza
First Floor, West
The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation will kick-off its 2020 award-winning Innovative Lives program series with “Innovative Lives: Adaptive Skateboarding, WCMX and Inventing Your Own Path,” featuring adaptive skaters Oscar Loreto, Jr, Dan Mancina and WCMX (Wheelchair Motocross) icon Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham. Through personal stories and conversation, these individuals will explore how innovation drives accessibility and the critical role of diversity, adaptability, and inclusion in skate and wheelchair motocross culture. Registration is required for the free event, visit for more information.
"The President" Music and Legacy of Lester (Prez) Young: A Jazz and Cultural Giant
Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra
Feb. 22; 7:30 p.m.
Nicholas F. and Eugenia Taubman Hall of Music
National Museum of American History
Tenor saxophonist Lester Young forged a voice in jazz, influencing many noteworthy musicians. The SJMO will present the music of Lester Young spanning three decades. For more information, visit:
The Smithsonian Chamber Players
Smithsonian Chamber Music Society
Feb. 1 and 2; 7:30 p.m.
Nicholas F. and Eugenia Taubman Hall of Music
Third Floor, West
The Smithsonian Chamber Players—Kenneth Slowik, harpsichord; Ian Swensen, violin—and Fellows—Taya König-Tarasevich, flute; Katya Poplyansky, violin; Stephanie Zimmerman, viola; Chelsea Bernstein, violoncello and Nick Schrantz, violone—will perform Haydn’s Sonata in B minor and J. S. Bach’s Partita in D major, Sonata in B minor and the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto. For more information, visit:
The Smithsonian Chamber Players
Smithsonian Chamber Music Society
Feb. 15; 7:30 p.m.
Nicholas F. and Eugenia Taubman Hall of Music
Third Floor, West
The Smithsonian Chamber Players—Kenneth Slowik and Naoko Takao, pianoforte—will perform three Mozart sonatas (K318/123a in G major, K497 in F major, and K521 in C major), for which a five-octave instrument will be used. They will also perform Schubert’s Grand Duo, D812 and Four Polonaises, D599, played on a six-and-one-half-octave piano. For more information, visit:
History Alive Theater Programs
Daily theater programs for visitors are free of charge with no tickets needed. Visitors should check with the visitor desks for the daily schedule.
Interactive Spaces
"Wegmans Wonderplace"
Open daily, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; closed Tuesdays
First Floor, West
The museum’s early learning gallery for children 0–6 connects important themes of the museum’s collections with children’s play and learning. Wonderplace provides young children with open-ended play opportunities that allow them to explore and learn at their own pace and interest level. For more information, please visit:
"Draper Spark!Lab"
Open daily, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; closed Tuesdays
First Floor, West
Draper Spark!Lab reveals the real story behind inventors’ work through hands-on activities infused with historical content that help kids ages 6-12 explore the history and process of invention. Hosted by the museum’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Spark!Lab’s interdisciplinary activities appeal to varied learning styles and abilities and combine traditional STEM with art and creativity. For more details about current Spark!Lab activities, please visit
Interactive Carts
Daily; 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Throughout museum
Interactive carts throughout the Museum allow visitors to interact with history and learn more about our collections. Carts are available most days; daily schedules are available at the museum's Welcome Center on the second floor and the Information Desk on the first floor. More information on daily programs and events is available at
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For more information, visit For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.