Womens Work exhibition at the Grolier ClubPhotograph by George Etheredge

Founded in 1884, the Grolier Club is a private club dedicated to the book arts. While candidates for membership must be nominated and meet certain criteria in order to join the “private bibliophile society,” members of the public are welcome to visit any of the club’s exhibitions.

Kitchen utensils, sewing needles and cleaning products are not the types of things you will find on display at the Grolier Club’s new exhibition on women’s work. Five Hundred Years of Women’s Work: The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection upends the idea of women’s work being simply domestic duties and instead, focuses on the forgotten or more obscured roles women have played throughout history. The artifacts, spanning from the Renaissance to the modern era, fill the first floor exhibition space of the Upper East Side townhouse where the Grolier Club is housed.  

The collection was carefully assembled over forty-five years by noted bibliophile, activist, collector, and Grolier Club member Lisa Unger Baskin. Baskin and her late husband, the artist Leonard Baskin, were both avid collectors in many areas. Lisa Baskin began collecting materials related to women in the 1960s, seeking to recover and recognize the many ways women have supported themselves, their families, and the causes they believed in. The exhibit brings together many well-known monuments of women’s history and literature, as well as lesser-known work produced by female scholars, printers, publishers, scientists, artists, and political activists. The exhibition illustrates the many ways women have been productive, creative, and socially engaged over the centuries.

A scarf advocating for women's suffrageWomen’s Social and Political Union. [“Votes for Women” scarf]. [1908?]. Silk. Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University

Five Hundred Years of Women’s Work will be on display through February 8, 2020. There will be an accompanying symposium on women in the book arts with a keynote Lecture by Dr. Nell Irvin Painter, an artist and Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, at Princeton University, on January 21st. You can learn more about the symposium and public tours of the exhibition here.

If you are an Untapped New York Insider, you can book one of our reserved spots for a tour of the exhibition led by Lisa Unger Baskin on Thursday, January 23rd. Insider spots are currently booked out. Join the waitlist below!

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Two suffragette figurinesLadies of Llangollen. [1800s]. Earthenware figurine. Ladies of Llangollen Papers. . Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Library, Duke University.

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