Brooklyn Museum to Show Civil War-Related Artworks and Historical Objects





An exhibition of nearly thirty artworks and historical objects celebrating the contributions of Union women to a Civil War relief effort known as the Sanitary Movement is the subject of the latest exhibition in the Herstory Gallery of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Healing the Wounds of War: The Brooklyn Sanitary Fair of 1864, on view from January 29 through September 12, focuses on one of the many sanitary fairs held in Northern cities to raise money to aid the Union troops, each seeking to outdo the others.

The Herstory Gallery is dedicated to exhibitions that relate to the lives and histories of the 1,038 women named in The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, which is on permanent view in the adjacent gallery. Represented in Chicago’s iconic work is Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States and a leader of the Sanitary Movement.

Although the U.S. Sanitary Commission, an official government agency signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln, was headed by men, much of its work to support the Federal army with funds and supplies was accomplished by thousands of women volunteers. They helped to organize sanitary fairs, marking the first time during the Civil War that women expressed their patriotism in the public sphere rather than the domestic arena.

In Brooklyn, women’s organizations produced the successful Brooklyn and Long Island Sanitary Fair, featuring dances, parades, merchandise sales, auctions, and a cattle show. The event lasted two weeks and raised a remarkable $400,000, four times more than anticipated...

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