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New Smithsonian exhibition on display in downtown Grinnell in honor of Women’s History Month

GRINNELL, Iowa — Grinnell College, a Smithsonian Affiliate, presents a new exhibition for the community. “Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence” includes 10 posters featuring historic photos and images tracing the history of the fight to pass the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote 100 years ago. The posters are displayed on the windows of 817 and 819 Fourth Ave. and will be there through March 31, and perhaps beyond, in honor of Women’s History Month. The exhibition is also available on the Grinnell College website at in the form of a digital photobook. 

Based on a National Portrait Gallery exhibition of the same name, the exhibition addresses women’s political activism, along with the racism that challenged universal suffrage. With historic images and text about key moments in the struggle that lasted for decades, the exhibition details the complexity of the women’s suffrage movement. The exhibition illustrates that today’s challenges over voting and voter rights issues are part of a much longer national conversation.  

“Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence” is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery. This project received support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. The exhibition in Grinnell is presented under the auspices of Grinnell College, a Smithsonian Affiliate, and the League of Women Voters, funded in part with a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

This is the fourth exhibition that Grinnell College has brought to the community from the Smithsonian. Since traditional indoor exhibitions are not possible during the ongoing pandemic, the College worked with Total Choice Shipping & Printing to take the paper posters and make them into stickers that affix to windows, turning the sidewalk into a gallery. The original paper posters provided by the Smithsonian have been donated to Grinnell High School as a teaching resource. 

Lesley Wright, director, Grinnell College Museum of Art, shared, “Thank you to the talented staff at Total Choice and to Rachel Bly and Bob Hamilton for the use of their windows so everyone can enjoy this display.” 

Grinnell College is a Smithsonian Affiliate, participating in a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums and educational and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. The college will also be offering three virtual lectures to celebrate Women’s History Month in March. To participate email or call the Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement at 641-269-3900 by noon on the day of the lecture for the link. 

Lena Richard and Julia Child: Two Women Who Changed Culinary History – March 10 at 6 p.m. 

Through their cookbooks, teaching and television programs, these extraordinary women inspired generations of people to take cooking seriously. They challenged perceptions and stereotypes of women in their respective eras and made lasting contributions to culinary history. Their stories, reflective of their very different backgrounds, reveal insights about women, race, food and culture in 20th century America.  


·         Paula Johnson, curator, National Museum of American History  

·         Ashley Rose Young, Ph.D, historian, National Museum of American History  

Women in Aerospace: Stories from the Smithsonian Collection – March 17 at 4 p.m. 

Margaret Weitekamp has researched and written on how a groundswell of support helped create a Lego set representing women’s contributions to aerospace. Join us for a discussion of how women have worked from the very beginning of aviation to innovate and how museums have documented their stories.  


·         Margaret Weitekamp, Ph.D, curator and department chair, Space History Department, National Air and Space Museum  

Ancient Worlds Contemporary Selves: Smithsonian Scholars Explore Intersectionality – March 24 at 6 p.m. 

In this discussion, scholars from the National Museum of the American Indian, Asian Pacific American Center and Smithsonian American Art Museum explore how artists integrate the ancient world within their contemporary artistic practice. In so doing, their works update and create new meanings, allowing them to pass on complex and layered cultural interpretations to future generations.  


·         Michelle Delaney, Ph.D, assistant director for history and culture, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian  

·         Healoha Johnston, curator, Asian Pacific American women’s cultural history, Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center  

·         Claudia Zapata, curatorial assistant, Smithsonian American Art Museum  

About Grinnell College   

Grinnell College, a private liberal arts college in Iowa founded in 1846, provides individually advised learning for intellectually engaged students to produce graduates who are prepared to navigate the world’s complexities and responsibly contribute to the common good. Grinnell enrolls 1,700 students from around the world, who earn bachelor’s degrees in a range of disciplines across the humanities, arts and sciences. Grinnell’s rigorous academic program and campus life emphasize excellence in education through free inquiry and the open exchange of ideas, a diverse community and social responsibility and action. More information about Grinnell College is available at  

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