Here’s how to celebrate Women’s History Month 2021 in NYC

March 10, 2021

Photo of Augusta Braxton Baker courtesy of NYPL Digital Collections

Every March the nation celebrates the contributions and achievements of women in the United States. With the origins of Women’s History Month, along with the suffrage movement itself, rooted in New York, the city is one of the best places to pay tribute to and learn more about the many trailblazing women who shaped the world as we know it. Although the pandemic has changed how we commemorate Women’s History Month, many local organizations and groups are hosting virtual lectures, tours, and art exhibits, from a two-day online festival hosted by the Apollo Theater to a feminist tour of Harlem. Plus, the city’s official tourism organization, NYC & Company, has put together an itinerary full of women-owned businesses and cultural sites related to women’s history across the five boroughs to visit, found here.

Women Who Dared: 19th Century American Women Writers & In the Footsteps of Bridget Murphy at Merchant’s House Museum
The Merchant’s House Museum is celebrating Women’s History Month with a weekly reading series featuring 19th century short stories written by American women authors. Every Sunday at 4 p.m. throughout March, join the museum in celebrating the “women who dared,” trailblazing writers who found success in a male-dominated industry despite obvious barriers. Following the readings by museum historian Ann Haddad, there will be a panel discussion and Q&A with literary and feminist scholar Elaine Showalter, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University. Tune in via Facebook or Youtube.

As a dual Women’s History Month and St. Patrick’s Day event, the museum is hosting a virtual house tour through the eyes of the Irish women who worked at the Tredwell house. The tour “In the Footsteps of Bridget Murphy” shows what it was like for Bridget Murphy, Mary Smith, and Mary James to be domestic workers in 19th-century New York City. The event costs $10 and will take place on Zoom on March 17 at 6 p.m. Reserve a spot here.

Youth in Action: Native Women Making Change
As part of its “Youth in Action” panel discussion series, the National Museum of the American Museum will host an event featuring the role of Indigenous women in politics. On March 18, listen to a conversation between Aidan Graybill, who serves on the executive council of the Wyandot Nation of Kansas, and Kansas State Rep. Christina Haswood. Find more details on the free event here.

“We Will Not Go Silently” by Silvia Blumenfeld, courtesy of NYC Parks

Women’s History Month exhibition at Poe Park Visitor Center
Throughout the month of March, the city’s Parks Department is offering several free tours and events that highlight the contributions of modern and historic women in parks and beyond. The Poe Park Visitor Center is presenting a virtual art exhibition featuring works from 12 emerging artists. Each artist gives their interpretation of the meaning of women’s history through their art and photographs, according to the agency. Further explore women’s history in NYC parks, including greenspaces named for women, art in the parks designed by women, and monuments of women, here.

The Apollo’s WOW: Women of the World Festival
The Apollo Theater’s fifth annual Women of the World Festival takes place this month with a two-day digital event and more than 80 participants. On Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21, there will be workshops, conversations, panels, and performances with guests like “Lovecraft Country” actress Aunjanue Ellis, co-host of “The Talk” Elaine Welteroth, poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni, host of SiriusXM’s “Bevelations,” author Bevy Smith, motivational speaker and author Harriette Cole, women’s rights activist Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, and many more. Other highlights of the festival include a Teen Summit, a conversation with artist-activist Hazel Scott, and a screening of short films created by women. Tickets purchased early cost $15 and $20 for the week of the event. Buy them here.

Photo of Patricia “Miss Pat” Chin courtesy of SummerStage

Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage Anywhere 
In response to the pandemic, SummerStage Anywhere launched last year, shifting from the city’s largest outdoor performing arts festival into a virtual performance venue. On March 18, the founder of Queens-based reggae label VP Records Miss Pat will be in conversation with NPR arts journalist Catalina Maria Johnson about her new book, Miss Pat- My Reggae Music Journey. Following the discussion, SummerStage will broadcast parts of the VP Records’ 40th anniversary Central Park concert from 2019, with performances from Elephant Man, Junior Reid, Estelle, and Raging Fyah.

On March 25, watch the New York Night Train Soul Clap and Dance-Off that took over the Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island in 2019. Enjoy a performance by Irma Thoma, who was joined by Archie Bell, Carl Carlton, Joe Bataan, Binky Griptite, and the Brooklyn Rhythm Band.

Alice Neel: People Come First at The Met
On March 22, Alice Neel: People Come First will open at The Met Fifth Avenue and be on view through August 21. The career-spanning survey features 100 paintings, drawings, and watercolors by Neel, a feminist icon and champion for social justice. One of the most acclaimed portrait artists, Neel became known for her groundbreaking depictions of pregnant women and mothers, as well as female nudes. And as a New Yorker, Neel’s connection to New York City is a major focus of the exhibition.

The museum is also offering a number of virtual events related to Women’s History Month, including a live-streamed discussion with artist Camille Claudel, a discussion between journalist Alina Cho and fashion designer Gabriela Hearst, and more. The Met’s “Women and Art” playlist on YouTube highlights the many contributions of women to art and society.

“Songbirds”—A virtual tribute to Minnie Riperton, Shirley Horn, and Joni Mitchell
Flushing Town Hall will present a live-streamed show featuring the music of Minnie Riperton, Shirley Horn, and Joni Mitchell, performed by jazz vocalist and pianist Mala Waldron and her quartet. The “Songbirds” concert, which costs $5, takes place on Friday, March 26 at 7 p.m. Buy tickets here.

Photo of the Staten Island Museum courtesy of NYC & Company

Women of the Nation Arise! Staten Islanders in the Fight for Women’s Right to Vote
This exhibition at the Staten Island Museum focuses on the role suffragists of the borough played in securing women’s right to vote in New York and nationwide. “Women of the Nation Arise” highlights the four tactics used in the long fight for suffrage: education, organization, agitation, and publicity. The exhibition also critically explores the movement and its failures, including racial, ethnic, and economic bias that divided the common cause. The exhibit, which is available to view online, is also open for in-person visits on weekends between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Museum admission costs $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and $2 for children.

A Virtual Feminist Walk through Harlem
The Morris-Jumel Mansion is hosting a virtual tour of Harlem this month, with stops at sites related to accomplished women. Hosted by city tour guide Leigh Hallingby, the free 45-minute tour explores the legacies of local trailblazers like A’Lelia Walker, Nicholasa Mohr, Zora Neale Hurston, and more. Following the tour and presentation, there will be a question and answer segment. Register for the event, taking place March 17 at 7 p.m., here.

Brooklyn Tastes with Love, Nelly
Spend an evening in March exploring feminist art and supporting local women-run businesses. The Brooklyn Museum teamed up with Ocean Hill-based bakery Love, Nelly for a virtual cooking class and a lecture about the artwork of Roser Bru on March 11. Participants will learn how to make a triple-layered cookie bar inspired by Bru’s work Trocados and end the night with a toasted coconut cocktail from Haley Traub, the general manager of the Lower East Side bar Attaboy. Tickets cost $10, include an ingredient list, and also a code for free museum admission. Buy them here.

Story-telling with Miss Pura Belpre. NYPL Digital Collections

Women’s History Month at NYPL
During the month of March, the New York Public Library is sharing the stories of 20 librarians who helped shape the iconic 125-year-old institution. The online showcase, Foreward: Women Who Built NYPL, features women like Jennie Mass Flexner, who founded the library’s Readers’ Advisory division, Regina Andrews, the first African American woman to lead an NYPL branch, Augusta Braxton Baker, the first African American librarian in an administrative position at NYPL, Mabel Williams, who created the library’s first reading list for teens, Pura Belpré, the city’s first Puerto Rican librarian, and many others.

The library also released a new list of recommended books, “Page Turners: Read What You Love!” selected by librarians for sparking a love of reading in them. Many virtual events related to Women’s History Month are happening at the library, including storytimes, trivia, panel discussions, STEAM crafts, and more. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment last August, NYPL released “The Essential Reads on Feminism,” a list of over 100 non-fiction titles about feminism, with a mix of current and historic materials.

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