Women's History Calendar

“Creating Icons: How We Remember Women’s Suffrage”
Nicholas J. and Eugenia Taubman Gallery; Second Floor West
March 6, 2020 - May 2, 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.

“Who Pays for Education?”
Thematic Case in “Giving in America”
Third Floor West
Opening March 18, 2020; Closes March 2021

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 Muppets Take American History”
Changing locations
Opening April 1, 2020; Ongoing

This “pop-up” installation will draw from the museum’s significant and historic collection of Jim Henson’s Muppets which ranges from his pioneering program “Sam and Friends” to “Fraggle Rock.” In this series of special pop-up displays, the Muppets will be appearing in unexpected places in some of the museum’s best-loved exhibitions, inviting visitors to look at the national collections through a fun new lens. Two Muppets will be displayed with exhibitions offering related content. Look for Miss Piggy to debut with in “First Ladies” and Count von Count in the “Value of Money” exhibitions. Muppets will rotate 2-3 times per year, check http://americanhistory.si.edu for updates.

“The Only One in the Room”
New Perspectives Case in “American Enterprise”
First Floor West
Opening April 16, 2020 - through March 2021

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 triumphs 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.
“Picturing Women Inventors”
Lower Level, Corridor
Opening May 22,2020 - through June 2021

Featuring stories of contemporary and historic women, this display of photos and graphics 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.
“Girlhood (It’s Complicated)”
Second Floor East
Opening June 12, 2020; Closes Jan. 2, 2023

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 (SITES)from 2023-25.
“Innovative Lives: Jogbra inventors”
March 4; 6 p.m.
Wallace H Coulter Performance Plaza
First Floor, West
Registration required: https://2020innovativelives.eventbrite.com

Join the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation on Wednesday, March 4 for the second program in its award-winning, Innovative Lives program series, "Innovative Lives: Jogbra Inventors Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller, and Polly Smith," which features the three 2020 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees who created the very first commercial sports bra. Registration is required for the free event, visit https://2020innovativelives.eventbrite.com for more information.
“Cooking Up History: Cookbooks and the Women’s Suffrage Movement”
March 27; 1 p.m.
Wallace H Coulter Plaza Performance Kitchen
First Floor, West

Did suffragists care about cooking? The food history team will delve into the role of cookbooks in supporting the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The cooking demonstration will also illuminate the museum’s exhibition, Creating Icons: How We Remember Woman Suffrage, sharing powerful stories of women activists who helped secure the right to vote for women in 1920.

Please join us on the Coulter Plaza before the program for a special Objects Out of Storage event with rarely seen materials from the Women’s Suffrage Movement.


History Alive Theater Programs: 

Women’s History Theater Programs are offered in conjunction with the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative, #BecauseofHerStory. The programs are offered periodically; please check the museum’s website for more details.
Justice Must be Done
Thursdays, 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.
"Within These Walls" exhibition
Second Floor, West

Attend an 1840 meeting of the Ipswich Female Anti-Slavery Society in abolitionist Lucy Caldwell’s Ipswich, Massachusetts home.
Meet the Wheelwoman
Fridays; Noon, 1 and 2 p.m.
First Floor, West

Meet wheelwoman Louise Gibson as she takes her bicycle on a journey to discover opportunities for women in the 1890s.
Votes for Women
Saturdays; Noon, 1 and 2 p.m.
Second Floor, West

Join a Silent Sentinel Suffragist on her way to the 1917 White House protests.
Media only:
Melinda Machado
(202) 633-3129