The Wonder Woman comic book character, also known as Diana, Princess of the Amazons, doesn’t hail from New York herself, but the creation of the comic, and the female empowerment movements that inspired it, have strong connections to New York City. In a temporary exhibit at the City Reliquary Museum, Wonder Women: NYC’s Heroes of Heterodoxy, visitors can explore the development of Wonder Woman alongside the history of female empowerment movements and the real-life wonder women who led them.
Join Untapped New York Insiders to explore more of the City Reliquary on February 22nd on a live-streamed virtual tour led by Assistant Director, Beth Haines! This virtual event is free for Untapped New York Insiders. Not an Insider yet? Become one today and get your first month free with code JOINUS.
City Reliquary Virtual Tour
In the early days of New York’s feminist movement, activists like Ethel Higgins Byrne, Lou Rogers, and Margaret Sanger gathered at Greenwich Village’s Heterodoxy club to debate and discuss important topics. The only requirement for membership was that your views could not be orthodox. At their meeting location inside Polly’s Restaurant, then located at 135 Macdougal Street, the women talked about everything from education reform to labor organization. New York City’s feminist activists fought for social change and women’s suffrage and opened the nation’s first birth control clinic in Brooklyn. They paved the way for women with unorthodox views and inspired a new kind of superhero.
Wonder Woman was introduced in 1941 and though her image was largely controlled by men, women played key roles behind the scenes. Early iterations of the character embodied a duality of female empowerment and bondage imagery, which led to criticism of the character. She was reinvented multiple times in a variety of different iterations. By 1968, an all-male creative team had stripped Wonder Woman of her superpowers and showed her working as a boutique shopgirl on the Lower East Side. When the women’s liberation movement gained traction in the 1970s, her heroic origins were restored. A reinvigorated Wonder Woman appeared on the first issue of Ms. magazine, newly restored as a powerful icon for social progress.
Wonder Woman and the female-led movements that inspired her stories, are still very relevant today. In 2022, when the right to abortion became a central focus of the 2022 midterm elections, City Reliquary decided to extend the run of the exhibit. The character of Wonder Woman continues to inspire New York creators, like Trina Robbins and Robyn Smith who made a zine to accompany the exhibit that highlights the work of various contributors. In this exhibit, visitors will see how for “eighty years, the women who influenced Wonder Woman have embodied heterodoxy in myriad forms, all thanks to the example set by their forebears decades before on the streets of New York City.”
The City Reliquary is a fully volunteer-run non-profit organization supported by its Members. City Reliquary members receive complimentary admission to the museum galleries and special events, which include obscure 35mm films, burlesque, illustration showcases, comedy, experimental theater, and more produced by local artists.
City Reliquary Virtual Tour
Wonder Women: NYC’s Heroes of Heterodoxy will be on view through April 2, 2023. Get a peek at the exhibit in our upcoming virtual tour of City Reliquary for Untapped New York Insiders on February 22nd!
Next, check out NYC’s Last Piece of Wooden Sidewalk at City Reliquary