Girl's history is American history in new exhibition at Cincinnati Museum Center
Smithsonian-produced Girlhood (It's complicated) opens this Saturday
The definition of girlhood has changed and continues to change over time. Girlhood (It’s complicated) looks at several factors that influence girlhood and how it is defined across social, economic and racial groups. The exhibition explores how girls have changed history in five areas: news and politics, education, work, wellness and fashion. In doing so, Girlhood tells the stories of young women including Minnijean Brown, who walked alongside eight other Black students to desegregate Little Rock’s Central High School as one of the Little Rock Nine, and Naomi Wadler, who led the 2018 March for Our Lives rally in Washington, DC. It also introduces skateboarder Cindy Whitehead and the impact of Title IX on girls’ athletics, and Veronica Mendez and how coming of age ceremonies like quinceañeras can be an opportunity to challenge societal expectations.
Pulling from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History collections, Girlhood includes incredible artifacts spanning two centuries. A makeup table from 1820 and a 1900s gym suit are featured alongside a 1958 dress worn by Brown, as well as Wadler’s yellow knit scarf that features so prominently in photos of her speaking at the March for Our Lives rally in 2018. Among the exhibition’s historic videos are footage of student-led school walkouts and a compilation of U.S. government-produced sex education films from 1919 to 1957. The exhibition design is inspired by magazines and zines (self-published magazines) that have been written for and by girls. It features murals and illustrations by artist Krystal Quiles based on historic photos.
CMC is also featuring stories and information from local organizations to provide a regional perspective on girlhood and a library of resources for guests before, during and after their visit. Among the organizations included are Central Ohio Women in the Trades, CMC’s Youth Programs, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, Girls on the Run, Girls Rock, Lighthouse Youth & Family Services, the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center, Regional Youth Leadership, Robert O’Neal Multicultural Arts Center and Saturday Hoops.
Visit Girlhood (It’s complicated) from October 14, 2023 to January 15, 2024 at Cincinnati Museum Center. The exhibition is included with Museum Admission and free for CMC Members.
Girlhood (It’s complicated) is developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). It was supported by the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative, the precursor of the Smithsonian American Women’s Museum.