Taking the Vote

Museum celebrates women’s suffrage with outdoor exhibition

Rise Up
Courtesy of Los Altos History Museum
An ongoing exhibit outdoors at the Los Altos History Museum puts local suffrage advocacy in a broader context.

Women fought for, and won, the right to vote 100 years ago. The Los Altos History Museum is set to celebrate the milestone with an outdoor exhibition, “Rise Up! The Fight for Women’s Suffrage,” on display beginning Aug. 20.

Originally slated as a larger exhibition in the museum’s main gallery, a mini version of “Rise Up!” will be mounted on the wraparound porch of the museum’s J. Gilbert Smith House. Set up as a self-guided tour, visitors may browse the large panels of historical photographs and text at any time, while practicing social distancing. When Santa Clara County allows the museum to reopen, the outdoor display will be consolidated with the main exhibition.

“We were disappointed not to be able to open the exhibition as planned in the main gallery, but flexibility is the name of the game this year,” said exhibition curator Amy Ellison. “Our team worked hard to pivot to this outside exhibit so we would have it up before Aug. 26, which is national Women’s Equality Day and the 100th anniversary of the constitutional amendment.”

“Rise Up!” explores the history of the suffrage movement at the national level, but also focuses on how Bay Area suffragists played an important role in winning the right to vote. It points out the obstacles women faced and the tools they used to drum up support, as well as the shortcomings of the movement and who was left out.

“While many women achieved the vote in 1920, it took decades longer for women and men of color to win the same right in many areas of the country,” Ellison said. “We want visitors to understand what a long and arduous road it was for women to be able to vote, and that the fight for equality is far from over.”

Exhibition co-sponsors include Los Altos Community Foundation, the Santa Clara County Office of Women’s Policy and the local chapters of the League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women.

Presenting an outdoor exhibition is one of many ways the nonprofit museum is providing the museum experience while closed to the public.
The online exhibition of David Bacon’s black-and-white photographs of migrant farmworkers, “In the Fields of the North/En Los Campos del Norte,” is available for viewing on the museum’s website through Aug. 19.

Also available is a collection of Anna Knapp Fitz paintings, a “Peek into the Past” archive of historical photographs and a video series of “Orchard Talks.” The museum’s outdoor agricultural exhibition renovation was also recently completed and is open for visitors.

The Los Altos History Museum is located at 51 S. San Antonio Road.

To sign up for the museum’s mailing list and for more information on upcoming programs and online events, visit losaltoshistory.org.

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