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Voting Rights Are at the Core of This New D.C. Exhibition

By Michael M. Clements | July 18, 2019 | Culture

A major exhibition on the history of women's suffrage reminds all that voting rights in America are hard won—then and now.


“The face of America has always included women,” said National Portrait Gallery Director Kim Sajet to the star-studded crowd at the opening of Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence. Through an array of photographic portraits, paintings, engravings, lithographs, newspapers, books, ballots and more materials, the exhibition weaves a complex narrative of the movement to secure women’s voting rights in America.

“We hope this exhibition serves to inspire future pioneers,” added Sajet. It’s hard to see how it wouldn’t. On view through Jan. 5, 2020, the show is a sobering and immersive reminder that voting rights in America were not granted to all by our Founding Fathers—they were, and must be, fought for. It also frames the ongoing battle for access to the ballot box and extols that complacency can not be an option—every vote counts and must be counted. It also recalls that the rights we hold today came from persistence and struggle—we are all standing on the shoulders of giants.

With an election a year away, and voter turnout hovering between 40 to 50 percent during midterms and 50 to 60 percent during presidential elections, the U.S. electorate could use a jolt of Seneca Falls motivation. Admission is free, National Portrait Gallery,

Photography by: Photography courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery