Seeing the Illinois Holocaust Museum’s Notorious RBG Exhibition the Covid -19 Way

RBG and Marty taking a break from work
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Yes. the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center was scheduled to re-open on July 15 which will be a FREE day but I could not wait until then to see the Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg exhibition. I had heard so much about it and I was curious to visit the museum online.  I loved my experience as I joined a group on Zoom.  I may return to see the real thing but I am thrilled to have seen it online first.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’59 is appointed the first female member of the Columbia Law School faculty in 1972. She had taught previously at Columbia in International Civil Procedure with Prof. Hans Smit’58 in 1961. She is the first femaile candidate to earn tenure at Columbia Law School.

With “Sheltering at Home”, I am hesitant to head out yet so the online version felt safe and easy. The presentation was impressive.  The narrator was clear and easy to listen to and the highlights were selected for me.  And I did not have to wrangle a place to see the exhibits. 

RBG and Marty with their daughter, Jane

Having seen the two recent RBG movies, I was curious about what else would be shown.  There was so much and it was different.  Almost a movie but not quite, and not quite a typical museum experience.  The great part about this is that this continues to be available even after the museum opens.  I highly recommend this experience.

RBG as a federal appearsl judge

The exhibition is based on the best-selling book, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It is distinguished because it is the first-ever museum exhibition  that focuses solely on RGB. The exhibit is a vibrant exploration of Justice Ginsburg’s life and her numerous, often simultaneous roles as a student, wife, mother, lawyer, judge, women’s rights pioneer, and Internet phenomenon.

Notorious RBG book cover illustration

I had received rave reviews from my LA relatives who saw this exhibition in L.A. It was developed by Associate Curator at Los Angeles Skirball Cultural Center, Cate Thurston, in partnership with Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, co-authors of the New York Times bestselling book, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, painting by Everett Raymond Kinstler

Briefs and other writings by RBG, including some of her famously searing dissents, are woven throughout the exhibit. In keeping with the spirit of Carmon and Knizhnik’s book, the exhibition riffs off the playful connection between Notorious RBG and rapper Notorious B.I.G. The name of each gallery section alludes to a song or lyric from the late hip-hop artist.

I was especially moved by the home videos of RBG with her husband, Martin “Marty” Ginsburg, on their honeymoon and in the early years of their marriage. Some of the photos were amazing and the experience of seeing this was very moving.

Public “drop-in” virtual tours of “Notorious RBG” are available! 

October 5, 6:30 pm (CDT): Click here to register
October 7 & 21, 10:30 am (CDT): Click here to register 
October 12, 6:30 pm (CDT): Click here to register
October 21, 6:30 pm (CDT): Click here to register
November 4 & 18, 10:30 am (CDT): Click here to register

Can’t Spell Truth Without Ruth, Frank Chi and Aminatou Sow

The reopening of the Museum is Wednesday, July 15,and they can’t wait to welcome you back! In celebration, Museum admission will be FREE for all visitors on the 15th from 10 am – 5 pm (last admission at 4 pm).

The safety of visitors, volunteers, and staff is our highest priority. You can read about our many safety initiatives and protocols below, and on our website. These new procedures will ensure we meet state guidelines while maintaining a world-class Museum experience.

The Museum is now open and looks forward to seeing you.

Photos: Courtesy of the Illinois Holocaust Museum


From the Illinois Holocaust Museum

According to Jewish tradition, a person who dies on Rosh Hashanah, which began tonight, is a person of great righteousness. That is certainly true of Justice Ginsburg.

“As an institution, we have been lucky enough to be telling her remarkable story for the last 7 months, whether in person in our Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburgexhibition or virtually,” says VP of Education and Exhibitions, Kelley Szany. “She has become a friend to us.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an amazing woman, full of spunk and grace and a quiet yet steely determination. She came of age in a time that was not supportive of women and the role they play in society. She fought discrimination at Harvard Law and when trying to find a job.

When she volunteered at the ACLU and saw the many challenges faced by women through their letters, it informed her life’s work. She used the law as a vehicle for change. And to reinforce the tenent that all people are created equal.

Her commitment to changing society was consistent and deliberate, and she argued case after case with the underlying theme that people should not be defined by their sex.

RBG was not just an attorney and judge, but a woman of huge heart, giant vision, and remarkable work ethic. She also became a cultural icon, gaining the attention and respect of so many through her humor, workouts, and fashion sense, using her collars to indicate her point of view for Supreme court decisions.

While we will continue to tell RBG’s story at our Museum through January, we will always be inspired by her and will work to build on her legacy in the ongoing fight for human rights.

May her memory be a blessing.

Susan Abrams
CEO, Illinois Holocaust Museum 


1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this informative article- and for the added memorial to RBG.
    Her passing on Rosh Hashanah is, indeed, important.

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