Rochester women who changed the world in RMSC Changemakers exhibit

Community

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) –Women who changed the world right in our own backyard. The Changemakers. It is the newest exhibit at the Rochester Museum & Science Center.

More than 200 women from past and present who made a huge impact in the Greater Rochester area are now featured in the exhibit.

“This process has been a learning experience for all RMSC staff involved. Working with a diverse group of community members brought to light a multitude of perspectives that enriched the exhibit content and ensured that everyone in the community will be able to see themselves in the exhibit,” said Kathryn Murano Santos, Senior Director of Collections and Exhibitions. “I think the resulting exhibit will help shift the dominant cultural narrative – one that excludes and erases women’s accomplishments, and particularly women of color – by making it clear that women of all backgrounds have always made important contributions that impact every aspect of our lives.”

Each Changemaker tells a story just like local black artist Almeta Whitis. A tremendous storyteller and author who traveled all over the world connecting with audiences and from right here in Rochester. Whitis said not only she loves what she does but learns so much from people who meet her after her shows.

“I want them to take away from watching whatever it is I’m giving, this thing that I tell the little ones: in the circle of life we were all things are, are you and me and everybody and people say that when they leave any things that I do feel more connected to people feel a greater sense of community. They feel a greater appreciation for the gift of life,” said Whitis. 

Almeta Whitis tells a tale of Truth & Story: to learn more about her performances click here.

Norma Holland, former local television news anchor is also featured among those who made an impact through news media.

“You matter. Your contributions matter. Even if at the time no one celebrates them or they feel small, they have impact. You have impact. You don’t have to come from a wealthy family, or be famous in order to make an impact in this world, you by yourself matter, “said Holland. “I think that is what this exhibit shows. The everyday contributions of amazing women that have built our great city to be what it is today.”

Another featured Changemaker is Michelle Schenandoah.  She is a member of the Oneida Indian Nation Wolf Clan of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.  Shenandoah founded Rematriation Magazine, an online platform that gives voice for indigenous women in their communities.

 Schenandoah said it is an honor to be featured and is happy to see so many Haudenosaunee women featured, who were instrumental in American history and part of the suffrage movement.

“We also had influence as well for the US constitution and the form of government and democracy that this country is based upon. little do people know that at all.  That’s why I’m saying it’s really sort of tucked away or invisibilized through history. so this exhibit gives a really great opportunity for the public to have some perspective into  the lives of Haudenosaunee women and so when you see our material culture you hear her stories you really kind of begin to get a little bit of a taste for like to come from a matrilineal and matrifocal culture.”

The museum has limited capacity so people can visit and practice social distancing. The Changemakers will be open to the public in the Riedman Gallery and adjacent spaces on the third floor of the Museum through Spring 2021. 

For more information about the exhibition, visit RMSC.org/changemakers.

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