Smithsonian Celebrates Women’s History Month

March 3, 2009
News Release
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The Smithsonian celebrates Women’s History Month in March with a series of films, lectures and performances at museums around the Institution. All programs are free unless otherwise indicated.

Feature Event
The Institution will kick off Women’s History Month at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery Saturday, March 7, from 1 to 5 p.m., with its free “Women’s History Month Family Day.” The event will include storytelling by author Yona Zeldis McDonough and folk artist Malcah Zeldis, concerts by the Georgia Tech Glee Club and the a cappella trio Ulali, a dance performance and workshop by Prachi Dalal, stamp designing, craft activities and a scavenger hunt. In a blast from the past, Clara Barton will share her adventures as founder of the American Red Cross and as a Civil War nurse in the museums’ historic building.

The National Museum of the American Indian will present “Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka’ehukai” (2002, 57 minutes) Sunday, March 15, at 2 p.m. in the museum’s Rasmuson Theater. This documentary is a touching portrait of Rell Kapolioka’ehukai Sunn (Native Hawaiian), a founder of the first women’s professional surfing circuit. This film is presented as part of the Environmental Film Festival.

The National Museum of American History will feature “Arctic Dance: The Mardy Murie Story” (2001, 75 minutes) Wednesday, March 18, at 3:30 p.m. at the McEvoy Auditorium at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. This film recounts the adventures of “the grandmother of the conservation movement” with archival footage and more recent interviews. A discussion with the filmmakers follows the screening.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum will feature “Artist Jessica Stockholder and the Legacy of Louise Nevelson” Friday, March 20, at 7 p.m. in the McEvoy Auditorium. A conversation with Stockholder, winner of the museum’s 2007 Lucelia Artist Award, follows a screening of the short documentary “The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legacy.”

Joseph Coddington, senior curator of entomology at the National Museum of Natural History, will lead a lecture titled “Friday Gallery Talk: Louise Bourgeois,” an examination of artist Louise Bourgeois’ sculpted spiders at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Friday, March 27, at 12:30 p.m.

For Children
The National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center will host “Women in Aviation and Space Family Day” Saturday, March 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors will celebrate the accomplishments of Bessie Coleman, Sally Ride and other pioneers of air and space. The day will include hands-on activities, displays of projects by local Girl Scout troops and appearances by a NASA astronaut and Tanya Lee Stone, author of “Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream.” The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will present “Artist at Work with Youth: Mary Coble” Saturdays, March 7, April 18 and May 9, from 1 to 3 p.m. (for ages 10 through 13). After a tour of the Hirshhorn’s new exhibition “Louise Bourgeois,” local artist Coble will lead participants in workshops inspired by Bourgeois’ work. Aspiring young artists will explore themes of dreams, the home and the family as they create their own drawings and sculpture. Participation in all three workshops is encouraged but not required. Register online at

Ramona Morrow (Yankton Sioux/Chippewa) will lead a doll-making workshop Thursday, March 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. The workshop will be based on her “Cattail Collection” at the National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center in New York. Using dyed cattail fluff, cloth and leather, Morrow will create dolls dressed in traditional Native clothing. Pre-registration is required and there is a $25 materials fee ($20 for museum members). Call (212) 514-3716.

Throughout the month of March, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s walk-in tours will focus on the work of Deborah Butterfield, Mary Cassatt, Jenny Holzer, Harriet Hosmer, Helen Lundeburg, Lois Mailou Jones, Lily Martin Spencer and Georgia O’Keeffe. Tours will be held Mondays, March 9, 16, 23 and 30, at 12:30 p.m. Meet in the F Street Lobby.

“First Ladies at the Smithsonian” showcases premier objects from the nearly century-old collection, including 14 dresses ranging from those of Martha Washington to Laura Bush. An introductory section explores the evolution of the collection and how it has been displayed at the Smithsonian. The centerpiece of the gallery is a large exhibit case that features selected gowns, portraits, White House china, personal possessions and associative objects from the Smithsonian’s unique collection of first ladies’ material. A section discussing the tradition of the first lady’s inaugural gown coming to the Smithsonian will answer some of the public’s most frequently asked questions. It highlights the gown worn by Helen Taft (the first inaugural gown presented by the first lady herself in 1912) and the 2001 inaugural gown worn by Bush. The final section focuses on the contributions of America’s first ladies and the ways in which they have influenced the most powerful office in the country—through their shaping of the first ladies’ role, the country’s expectations of public women and the needs of the presidential administration.

All programs are subject to change. For more information about the Women’s History Month programs, visit or e-mail For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000 or (202) 633-5285 (TTY).

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Media Only

Samia Brennan

(202) 633-5191