Museum’s “Votes for Women: 100 Years and Counting”

The Washington State Historical Society plans to open the game-based exhibition Votes for Women: 100 Years and Counting post-pandemic. The museum made alterations to the original exhibition so that everyone can play safely in the expansive gallery spaces.

Votes for Women: 100 Years and Counting is a vibrant celebration of female achievements in politics and society. It focuses on the national suffrage story and our state’s connections, explaining how Washington women led the way to the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

“We are beyond excited to open this exhibition,” said Mary Mikel Stump, the Historical Society’s audience engagement director. “When we started thinking about how to tell the suffrage story in exhibition form, we immediately thought of Jessica Spring and Chandler O’Leary. Their creative work in their book Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color made them a natural choice to highlight women change-makers who paved the road to the vote, and to explain what that has meant in the one hundred years since ratification in August of 1920.” Stump added, “It’s been wonderful working with these two witty, wise women who have laid out the story in six succinct sections where visitors can actively participate.”

The exhibition is richly illustrated with artwork created by O’Leary and Spring. Visitors will also see historic objects and ephemera from the Historical Society’s collections alongside reproduced historic photographs and ephemera from the National Archives. Spring and O’Leary noted in their curator’s statement, “The Washington State History Museum put forward a challenge: Could we engage visitors in a journey to celebrate women gaining equality at the ballot box, but also consider all the obstacles that—to this day—prevent all Americans from exercising their voting rights equally? And what if that visitor experience could be a game?”

As a result of O’Leary and Spring’s approach, visitors will journey through an interactive history lesson where game components provide opportunities to synthesize and apply what they’ve learned. “You’ll come out knowing the names of those who fought for this basic constitutional right, and you’ll appreciate your right to vote as never before!” commented Stump.

Votes for Women: 100 Years and Counting is on view through November 8, 2020.


Image credit: Jessica Spring and Chandler O’Leary’s signature illustrative style is featured throughout the Votes for Women: 100 Years and Counting exhibition, and seen here in t he History Museum’s exhibition poster.