The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which granted women the right to vote—although many voting struggles persisted for minority groups. The long road to women’s suffrage, spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, played out very differently from political movements today. In the absence of televised and digital media, the suffragists spread their message through magazines, political cartoons, posters, plays, parades, and even through fashion. This exhibition will examine the visual culture of the suffrage movement, revealing how the “look” of women’s rights developed and the important visual strategies that propelled the campaign.
Votes for Women: A Visual History will include drawings, illustrations, and posters from museums, historical societies, and private collections that visualize the complex political messages conveyed by suffragists. Also included will be historic photographs of marches, rallies, and the celebrated procession in Washington DC held in March of 1913. Examples of the costumes, clothing, sashes, and other emblems of women’s activism worn by suffragists will enliven the presentation, drawing comparisons between the representations and realities of women’s struggle to win the vote.
The exhibition will present a more inclusive historical narrative, recognizing the efforts of women of color and their community networks, which have long been ignored. The visual lessons of the suffrage movement provided a model for later activism, including the civil rights and social justice movements up to the present day, making this not just a centennial celebration, but a window into contemporary visual discourse.
Votes for Women: A Visual History is made possible by PECO, The Coby Foundation, Ltd., and The Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Additional support has been provided by donors to the Brandywine River Museum of Art Exhibition Fund, including William C. and Laura Buck, Mr. and Mrs. Anson McC. Beard Jr., and Mr. and Mrs. Michael R. Matz
Art of the Vote educational programs are generously sponsored by PNC Arts Alive.
Vision 2020 is a national women's equality initiative headquartered at Drexel University’s Institute for Women's Health and Leadership. In the year 2020, Vision 2020 will lead Women 100: A National Celebration of American Women to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: women’s right to vote. Throughout the year, Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy, will be home to Vision 2020’s Women 100 programs and events, complemented by the work of Proud Partners — organizations committed to gender equality that have created their own programming in support of Women 100. Vision 2020 applauds Brandywine River Museum of Art, one of its Women 100 Proud Partners, on the organization’s commitment to advancing women’s equality and looks forward to its 2020 program.
The Justice Bell Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate, inspire and mobilize current and future voters. With programs for schools, a film about the Women’s suffrage movement, and a replica Justice Bell that will tour Pennsylvania in 2020, the Justice Bell Foundation is committed to reclaiming women’s history and highlighting women’s contributions. The Brandywine River Museum of Art is pleased to partner with the Justice Bell Foundation and display the replica bell in 2020.