Girls are historic agents of change in new exhibition at Cincinnati Museum Center

Girlhood (It's complicated) opens Oct. 14 at Cincinnati Museum Center

Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) is showing why girls’ history is American history. A new featured exhibition opening this Saturday showcases the strength and resilience of girls everywhere. Girlhood (It’s complicated) features nearly 200 artifacts from the Smithsonian to reflect the diversity of girls’ experiences and tell the stories of girls who have challenged the status quo, who have been on the front line of social change and who have made history. In the process, it provides a fresh perspective for our shared American experience. Girlhood (It’s complicated) opens October 14.

Girlhood (It’s complicated) will open October 14 at Cincinnati Museum Center. The exhibition is included with Museum Admission and free for CMC Members.

Girlhood rightly positions girls as agents of change, standing up and speaking out to shape the world around us,” said Elizabeth Pierce, president & CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “The exhibition invites much-needed dialogue about society’s expectations of our youth and serves as a lens for our today and our tomorrow. In reconsidering our nation’s history through the eyes and lives of young women, we can inspire a more equitable and empathetic future for everyone, from the start.”

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. 

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. 

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 Art Center and Saturday Hoops.

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