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In museums: Suffrage, scandal, sloths, and rebellion

Wildlife photographers, LEGOs, bugs, love, and scandal are also on the schedule this spring.

A sloth, at rest, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.
A sloth, at rest, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.Read moreLittle Ray's Nature Centres

It’s the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, and the birthday of the adoption of the 19th Amendment provides area museums an opportunity to explore the profound impact of the women’s suffrage movement on virtually every aspect of American life: the arts, the workplace, visual and popular arts, gender roles, the workplace, social relationships, the home. The National Constitution Center, for one, is opening a major long-term exhibit.

Two other subjects of attention this spring are the nature of the Underground Railroad and the wide-ranging effects of Tacky’s Rebellion, an insurrection of the enslaved that swept the Caribbean in the 1760s. Both will be examined in talks and programs.

Sloths and bugs, wildlife photographers, love, and scandal also get their due from Philadelphia institutions this spring.

Votes for Women: A Visual History (through June 7, Brandywine River Museum of Art, Chadds Ford). For the 19th Amendment centennial, the Brandywine mounts a show of illustrations, cartoons, drawings, magazines, posters, plays, photographs, and other media used by suffragists to spread their message. (610-388-2700,

Writing Across Genres: African American Women Writers in the Joanna Banks Collection (through April 10, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library at Penn). An exploration of black cultural and intellectual traditions across multiple genres — novels, poetry, cookbooks, children’s books, essays, biographies and autobiographies, sermons, and more. A related exhibit has original art of women from illustrator Ashley Bryan’s books. (215-898-7088,

Love, Stamps, Science, and Scandal (Feb. 11, 6:30 p.m., Science History Institute). Marie Curie, on the cusp of her second Nobel Prize, almost lost it all in a love scandal detailed in private letters made public at the time. Maybe not a bodice buster, but an engaging talk delivered by fellow Ashley Bowen nonetheless. (215-925-2222,

Read the Revolution: Tacky’s Revolt (Feb. 12, 6 p.m., Museum of the American Revolution). Vincent Brown discusses his latest book, an account of how the largest slave revolt in the Atlantic world connected Europe, Africa, and America, and how it speaks to our times. (215-253-6731,

Fact, Folklore, and the Legacy of the Underground Railroad (Feb. 12, 6:30 p.m., Historical Society of Pennsylvania). A panel discusses the continued presence of the Underground Railroad in American memory, media, and culture. (215-732-6200,

Galentine’s Day (Feb. 13, 6 p.m., Penn Museum). Another museum tribute to women, with special tours, performances, and more. (215-898-4000,

Survival of the Slowest (Feb. 15-Sept. 20, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University). Sometimes being slow or adept at hiding can be an animal’s best survival strategy. Get up close to a dozen live species including a two-toed sloth, African pygmy hedgehog, Asian forest scorpion, and the Massasauga rattlesnake. It’s OK to blink: You won’t miss them. (215-299-1000,

Making the Renaissance Manuscript: Discoveries from Philadelphia Libraries (Feb. 10-May 19, Kislak Center at Penn’s Van Pelt-Dietrich Library). A big Philadelphia-area collaboration presents illuminated and illustrated manuscripts from Penn, Bryn Mawr College, College of Physicians, the Free Library, Lehigh University, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rosenbach, Temple, and La Salle. (215-898-7088,

Yolanda Wisher’s Rent Party (Feb. 20, 7 p.m., the Rosenbach). An evening highlighting the lives and voices of Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez, Ted Joans, and Bob Kaufman — four black Beats who came of age in the 1940s and 1950s. Yolanda Wisher and the Afroeaters will conclude the event reading Beat classics to the tune of bebop backdrops. (215-732-1600,

Not So Silent Cinema (Feb. 27, 5:30 p.m., the Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia). The Mütter screens F.W. Murnau’s classic 1926 silent film, Faust, complete with a new live score from Not So Silent Cinema and the Bismuth Quartet. (215-560-8564,

Sip and Sketch with artist Marguerita Hagan (Feb. 27, 5:30 p.m., Wagner Free Institute of Science). Ceramic artist Hagan will lead an evening of guided drawing among the Wagner’s coral, sea stars, and sea sponges, and share her science-inspired artistic process. (215-763-6529,

History of the Lenape in the Delaware Valley (Feb. 27, 6:30 p.m., Historical Society of Pennsylvania). Confirmed speakers include Nanticoke-Lenape tribal historian Cara Blume and the Rev. John Norwood, first principal justice of the Tribal Supreme Court. (215-732-6200,

Re-Vision 20/20: Through a Woman’s Lens (Feb. 29-Jan. 3, 2021, Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library). For the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, Winterthur looks at objects and manuscripts from more than 300 years of history that touch on complex issues associated with gender, race, politics, religion, and celebrity. (800-448-3883,

Seat at the Table (March 1-Sept. 30, Drexel University-Kimmel Center). Women won the vote in 1920, so where are we now? This exhibit by New York’s DOME Collective includes “infographic furniture" showing progress toward equality and "physical interventions” (for instance, visitors can ride a bike to “exercise” their right to vote). Free in the Kimmel lobby 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. (215-895-2000,

Robert D. Hicks on The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia (March 4, 6 p.m., Penn Museum). In this illustrated presentation, the director of the Mütter Museum discusses the pandemic as a social catastrophe. Several relevant artifacts from the Mütter will be on display. (215-898-4000,

From Gainsborough to Gothic Nightmares: Art History in “Cost of Revolution” (March 5, 6 p.m., Museum of the American Revolution). Martin Myrone, curator from the Tate Britain, visits for a talk on Richard St. George (the subject of MAR’s current exhibit), his portrait by Gainsborough, and an unexpected set of connections between the trauma of the revolution and the fantastical culture of the Gothic. (215-253-6731,

Domesticating Revolution: Founding Women, Material Culture, and Politics at Home (March, 11, 27, & April 22, 5:30 p.m., Library Company of Philadelphia). A three-part seminar on the role of women during the revolutionary period. In a nutshell, they brought the war home. (215-546-3181,

Recycling Realities with Professor Kevin Cannon (Tuesdays, March 24-April 28, 6:30 p.m., Wagner Free Institute of Science). Cannon’s free course on the technologies and limitations of recycling is back to guide you through our waste disposal crisis. Held at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 100 N. 20th St., no registration required. (215-763-6529,

Wildlife Photographer of the Year (March 29-Aug. 23, Academy of Natural Sciences). See 100 images from the prestigious competition held by the Natural History Museum in London to recognize the world’s best nature photography. (215-299-1000,

Manjiro: Drifting, 1841-2020, (April 2-Nov. 1, the Rosenbach). The epic story of a Japanese teenager who left his village on a fishing trip in 1841 and, after shipwreck and world travels, became the first Japanese person to live in the United States. Presented in partnership with the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia’s JapanPhilly2020 initiative. (215-732-1600,

10th Annual Philadelphia Science Festival (April 16-25, Franklin Institute). The festival returns with 10 days of events, culminating in the Science Carnival on the Parkway April 25. (215-448-1200,

As We Saw Them (April 23-January 2021, Independence Seaport Museum). This exhibition explores the evolution of the complicated and lasting partnership between Japan and the U.S., from its taut beginnings to a flourishing relationship spanning two centuries. (215-413-8655,

The Right Kind of Man: Masculinity, Identity, and the American Business Executive in the Early 20th Century (April 23, 6:30 p.m., Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington). Before Mad Men there was what? Plenty of other white men to invent the corporate structure for themselves. Historian Karen W. Mahar discusses at a Hagley research seminar. (302-658-2400,

BrickLIVE (May 2-June 5, the Franklin Institute). Some 4 million plastic play bricks, give or take, are being plopped down in the middle of the Franklin Institute so kids can build to their hearts’ content. (215-448-1200,

The 19th Amendment: How Women Won the Vote (Opens June 10, National Constitution Center). A new, semipermanent exhibition will showcase nearly 100 artifacts, including Lucretia Mott’s diary, a rare printing of the Declaration of Sentiments from Seneca Falls, and a ballot box used to collect women’s votes in the late 1800s. (215-409-6600,

The Secret Life of Bugs (June 6-Jan. 3, 2021, Franklin Institute). Precision flight, swarm intelligence, mind control — bugs did it first, per the Franklin Institute, and do it better. What would the future look like if we could tap into bug smarts? (215-448-1200,