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'These women are changing the world' | Smithsonian exhibit celebrates women in science and tech with 120 life-size statues

The 3D-printed statues of women in the STEM fields will be displayed in the Smithsonian Gardens and in select museums in the Smithsonian network from March 5-27.

WASHINGTON — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above is from Feb. 9 and features another Smithsonian initiative.

The Smithsonian will commemorate Women's History Month in March by displaying 120 life-size neon orange statues depicting women who have excelled in the fields of science and technology.

The 3D-printed statues will be displayed in the Smithsonian Gardens and in select museums in the Smithsonian network from March 5-27. A statement announcing the display called it "the largest collection of statues of women ever assembled together."

The statues depict women who have excelled in STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math. These range from Jessica Esquivel, one of only 150 Black women with a PhD in physics in the country, to Karina Popovich, a college student who produced over 82,000 pieces of 3D-printed PPE for healthcare workers in the early days of the pandemic.

Each statue features a QR code that links to the personal story of the depicted woman. The statues have been previously displayed in Dallas, and a handful of them appeared in New York's Central Park Zoo.

Credit: Courtesy of IF/THEN COLLECTION
Joyonna Gamble-George stands next to her statue in the #IfThenSheCan -- The Exhibit. Gamble-George is an American neuroscientist, innovator, and entrepreneur.

Ellen Stofan, the Smithsonian's undersecretary for science and research, said in a statement that the exhibit, "provides the perfect opportunity for us to show that women have successfully thrived in STEM for decades, while also illustrating the innumerable role models young women can find in every field."

The women being honored were chosen by Lyda Hill Philanthropies and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They include MIT astrophysicist Kelly Korreck; wildlife biologist Kristine Inman; microbiologist Dorothy Tovar; mathematics professor Minerva Cordero and U.S. Women's National Soccer Team physician Monica Rho.

The display, titled "#IfThenSheCan — The Exhibit" will feature the Smithsonian's oldest museum, the Arts + Industries Building — which only reopened last year after being closed to the public since 2004. 

During the opening weekend, all 120 statues will be displayed there and the Smithsonian Castle and the adjacent Enid A. Haupt Garden. After the opening weekend, the statues will be dispersed to different Smithsonian museums across the National Mall.

"These women are changing the world, and providing inspiration for the generation that will follow them," AIB Director Rachel Goslins said in a statement.

Credit: Courtesy of IFTHEN Collection
#IfThenSheCan—The Exhibit,2021

Women’s Futures Month Programming

Throughout the month, the Arts and Industries Building also will host an array of other #WomensFuturesMonth in-person and virtual events that will bring to life inspirational stories of women making a difference in their fields.

Highlights include:

“Meet Us In the Futures: Using Her Lens to Capture Tomorrow”

Thursday, March 3, 6:30–7:30 p.m. (virtual) 

To help imagine a future that prioritizes the inclusion of female-led perspectives in the world of media, this special program will feature trailblazing women in media, such as Cierra Glaude, who is a director behind the award-winning Ava DuVerney OWN drama, "Queen Sugar," and Gia Peppers, award-winning entertainment journalist. 

“Tell Me More: Living in Space”

Thursday, March 10; 6:30–7:30 p.m. (virtual and in person)

Dava Newman, MIT Media Lab director and aerospace engineer, will offer an exploration of the magic of her groundbreaking spacesuit, the Biosuit. 

“Fridays@FUTURES: #WomensFuturesMonth”

Friday, March 11; 5:30–7 p.m. (in person)

A guided tour will explore creative visions of the future through art. From the portal of Expanded Present to artificial intelligence portraiture to a coin-operated Wetland, visitors can see how art helps people imagine possible futures.

“Tell Me More: Gamechangers”

Thursday, March 24; 6:30–7:30 p.m. (virtual and in person)

Visitors can take a trip with the women gamers, designers and therapists behind EyeMine to explore the power of the video game that gives players with physical disabilities the chance to fully experience video game play through adaptive technology.

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