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History museum to feature Renton's women

The Renton History Museum will explore the lives of Renton women from the earliest pioneers through the 1970s in an upcoming exhibit, which opens June 3. The exhibit includes photos like this one of a Rosie the Riveter.  - Courtesy Photo
The Renton History Museum will explore the lives of Renton women from the earliest pioneers through the 1970s in an upcoming exhibit, which opens June 3. The exhibit includes photos like this one of a Rosie the Riveter.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The Renton History Museum is set to open a new exhibit in June focusing on historical Renton women.

The exhibit, “Pioneers, Professionals and Politicians,” runs June 3 to Aug. 30 at the downtown Renton museum, 235 Mill Ave.

It’s an exhibit that’s been in the making for a long time, according to Museum Director Elizabeth Stewart.

“The museum’s staff has been talking about doing an exhibit about women for some time, because Renton’s history is full of significant women,” Stewart said in an email.

The museum’s Colleen Lenahan, visitor experience coordinator, helped the Highline Historical Society develop a women’s history exhibit before she joined the staff. This is her first big project for Renton History Museum.

“We’re very excited to explore women in Renton’s history for the first time, and we’re hoping that visitors will help us uncover even more women’s stories,” said Stewart.

A few of the women real-life characters visitors will encounter are Rentonite Mary Wilson, who voted in 1910, 10 years before all American women got the right to vote. Then there’s Allura Brown Cutler, whose diaries hold fascinating clues into the earliest days of the city, according to staff.

The exhibit also explores the many female workers, business owners, city staff, politicians, nurses, boardinghouse-keepers and Rosie the Riveters who made up Renton.

“Pioneers, Professionals & Politicians explores women from Renton’s earliest pioneers through the 1970s,” said Stewart. “It’s not a comprehensive exhibit, because there are so many women that we don’t know enough about. We also made the decision not to cover living women, because they have so many more contributions to make.”

Accompanying the exhibit will be the presentation “Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology,” by Jennifer Stuller.

Stuller’s book explores what popular culture reveals about social mores. She is a professional writer, critic, scholar, and pop-culture historian and also the co-founder of and programming director for GeekGirlCon.

“Women in Renton always took the opportunity to shape their own destinies, whether by creating businesses, or running for office, or just being the best at whatever work they do,” said Stewart. “Though often ignored by history, Renton women took the initiative in making the city better for their families, friends, and co-workers.”

Museum admission is a suggested donation of $3 per adult and $1 per student and always free for members.

 

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