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Museum's photography exhibit examines women's roles

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A new photography exhibit opening Friday profiles of women in the late 1800s and early 1900s who stepped beyond the boundaries of traditional expectations for gender roles.

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum's "Not Just a Housewife: The Changing Roles of Women in the West" exhibit is comprised primarily of photos from the museum's collections, said Karen Spilman, the exhibit curator and the museum's Dickinson Research Center librarian.

Taken between 1890 and 1920, the photos depict the lives of 13 women who challenged societal norms by engaging in activities that were atypical for women at the time, such as playing poker, Spilman said.

PLAYER
One of the featured women was nicknamed "Poker Alice," she said, and the exhibition includes a shot of her playing the game. Spilman said that whenever possible, she tried to include pictures of the women doing whatever unusual hobby or career they had.

Two of the women in the exhibit were from Oklahoma, she said. One was named Kate Barnard, and she was the first woman elected as an Oklahoma state official, serving as commissioner of charities and corrections in 1907, before women were allowed to vote.

Spilman said she chose the time period because that's when women began entering the workforce outside of the home and their expected roles in society.

"I hope that everyone that sees the exhibit can appreciate the risks that these women took to step out of that role of being a housewife and a mother," she said.

The exhibit opens Friday and runs through Jan. 10, 2010, at the museum, 1700 N.E. 63rd in Oklahoma City. Admission is $10 for adults, $8.50 for students and seniors, and $4.50 for children ages 6 to 12. Children 5 and under are admitted free. For more information, call 478-2250.

"?Will Holland 

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