The groundbreaking, landmark showcase, which took nearly three years to create, explores the legacy of 32 remarkable women whose noteworthy accomplishments contributed to the advancement of science. Some of the women you will know, and all of them you should know.
This workbook of Emilie du Châtelet used to write about conic sections in her translation and commentary on Newton’s ‘Principia.’ (Photo: Megan Gannon/LiveScience)
The exhibit highlights work in physics, chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, computing, and medicine while also addressing the many challenges these women had to overcome regarding lack of educational opportunities and the traditional attitudes that limited women’s roles in these fields.
Many of the 150 original artifacts on display have special attributes and provenance. Objects include books, manuscripts, periodicals, offprints, dissertations, and laboratory apparatus – one of which was used by Marie Curie during her earliest work on radioactivity.
Among the 32 luminaries featured are Marie and Irène Curie, Marietta Blau, Lise Meitner, Maria Goeppert Mayer, C.-S. Wu, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, and Rosalind Franklin in physics and chemistry.
Representing astronomy are Maria Cunitz, the most advanced scholar in mathematical astronomy of the seventeenth century, and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, whose Ph.D. thesis in 1925 was the beginning of modern astrophysics.
Nineteenth-century mathematicians highlighted include Sophie Germain, Sophie Kowalevski, and Florence Nightingale for her work in statistics. Yes, we said statistics. Although usually associated with nursing, Florence Nightingale was also a statistician and invented graphing techniques.
The FREE exhibition is on view at The Grolier Club in New York City, until Saturday, November 23, 2013.
If you can’t make it, check out the wonderful exhibition catalog, which includes biographical sketches that describe the women’s scientific work, and weave it into the context of their personal lives and the times in which they lived. The catalog is available for purchase here.
Lead image: A calculating device used by the Nobel-winner Dorothy Hodgkin in her early work in crystallography.