AUGUSTA — The Maine State Museum will open its newest exhibition, “Women’s Long Road – 100 Years to the Vote,” on Saturday, March 23.

The museum will celebrate the opening with free admission from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Maine Girls Chorus will give a special performance at 11 a.m. Special crafts for children and families will be offered throughout the day.

“As Maine prepares to celebrate its bicentennial in 2020, it’s stunning to realize that, at our state’s founding, only non-Indian male citizens 21 and older could vote,” museum Director Bernard Fishman said. “Even more surprising was that it took 100 years of petitions to the Maine Legislature, work by suffrage organizations large and small, and countless debates and demonstrations, before most women finally received the vote in 1920. It’s hard to believe that there was so much opposition to what we now see as such an obvious right. Surely that means we’re making real progress after all.”

Through the people who lived the struggle, the museum’s exhibition tells the story of the 100-year effort to expand voting rights to include women. Historical photographs, artifacts and documents on display add dimension to those stories as they were played out in newspaper headlines, parades, cartoons, products and petitions. The work of Maine activists, and the “antis” who were against opening the vote to women, are seen along with the passions of the national struggle.

The museum exhibit also looks at women’s lives generally over the century, as well as at voting issues that continue to be a vibrant part of public debate today. The exhibit will include a voting booth where visitors can cast their “ballot” about some of the current voting-related questions that are pointing the way to the next surge of enthusiasm in the examination of who can vote and what voting means in America’s form of representative democracy.

Pro-suffrage activists in Portland. (Photo by Maine State Museum Collections)

 

“Women’s Long Road – 100 Years to the Vote” will be on view at the museum through Jan. 25, 2020. Related educational programs and events will be announced or available through the museum’s website at www.mainestatemuseum.org.

This exhibit is a project of Maine’s Suffrage Centennial Collaborative, a diverse group of organizations that, through 2020, will feature a variety of programs about the centennial of women’s suffrage and the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For further information, see the collaborative’s website, www.mainesuffragecentennial.org.

The Maine State Museum is at 230 State St. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. It is closed Sunday, Monday, and all state holidays. Admission is charged.

For more information go to mainestatemuseum.org or 207-287-2301.