By Katy Maggart—
MUNCIE, IN— While the nursery rhyme proclaims that girls are “made of sugar and spice and everything nice,” history demonstrates that girls are made of stronger stuff. Minnetrista Museum & Gardens will delve into this history with Girlhood (It’s complicated), an exhibition from the Smithsonian. Opening June 3, the exhibition showcases how girls have been on the frontlines of change and how they have made an impact on all aspects of American life. The exhibition will be on view through September 17.
Girlhood (It’s complicated) was developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition was supported by the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative, the precursor of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.
Spanning a timeframe of more than 200 years and showcasing approximately 200 objects, the exhibition examines the ways American girls, from Minnijean Brown to Naomi Wadler, have spoken up, challenged expectations and used their voices to effect change. Among the highlights are a makeup table from 1820, a 1900s gym suit, and a 1958 dress worn by Brown, one of the Little Rock Nine.
“Girlhood” looks at how girls have changed history in five areas: news and politics (Girls on the Front Lines of Change), education (Being Schooled), work (Hey, Where’s My Girlhood?), wellness (Body Talk) and fashion (Girl’s Remix). Some of the stories highlighted include the Girl Scout experience, girls in sports including skateboarder Cindy Whitehead and the impact of Title IX on girl’s athletics, and Veronica Mendez’s Quinceañera or 15th birthday coming of age ceremony.
The design features custom wall-sized murals and illustrations by artist Krystal Quiles based on historic photos. Among the eight exhibition videos are an animated entrance experience, a make-up video, footage of historic student-led school walkouts and a compilation of U.S. government-produced sex education films from 1919 to 1957.
The Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum advances the understanding of women’s contributions to various fields throughout history that have influenced the direction of the United States. The museum collaborates with other museums and educational institutions to expand scholarly research, public programs, digital content, collections and more to recognize diverse perspectives on women’s history and contributions. The legislation creating the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum passed December 27, 2020. Connect with the museum at womenshistory.si.edu.
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research, and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History seeks to empower people to create a more just and compassionate future by examining, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. For more information, visit americanhistory.si.edu.
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 70 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu.
Supported locally by DeFur Voran. In partnership with Ball State University Women’s and Gender Studies Program, League of Women Voters of Muncie-Delaware County, and Muncie Altrusa Foundation.
For more information visit minnetrista.net. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the most up-to-date information on our exhibits and events.
Katy Maggart is Communications Manager at Minnetrista Museum and Gardens.