National Museum of American History

Image courtesy of the National Museum of American History

Before 2020 became the dystopian reality that we seem to live with every day, the Smithsonian Institution had declared this year as the “Year of the Woman,” anticipating the centenary of women’s suffrage.

Nothing could have prepared us for an aggressive pandemic with no cure on the horizon, a life between mask and hand sanitizer, and the absence of hugs and affection. However, the Smithsonian has decided to move forward with its celebration, opening the “Girlhood (It’s Complicated)” exhibit at the National Museum of American History on October 9.

“The history of girlhood is not what people think; it is complicated,” reads the description of the show. “Young women are often told that girls are ‘made of sugar and spice and everything nice. What we learn from the past is that girls are made of stronger stuff. They changed history.”

In a 5,000-square-foot gallery, the curators have organized the visual retrospective on the power of the once-named “Second Sex” into five sections: Education (Being Schooled), Wellness (Body Talk), Work (Hey, Where’s My Girlhood?), and Fashion (Girl’s Remix).

According to American University’s digital platform, Girlhood director and chief curator Kathleen “Kathy” Franz, the exhibition’s narrative focused on “girls’ political voices over time.”

“I was so inspired and delighted to serve as the project director/lead curator for this exhibition,” says Franz, who is also an associate professor and distinguished historian in residence in American University’s Department of History. “It was a privilege to work with the large, creative team of curators, project managers, collection managers, and designers to create something unique, new, and powerful to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.”

Read the full article here.

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