Now on view at the Skirball Cultural Center through March 10, 2019, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first-ever retrospective about the trailblazing associate justice and cultural icon. Based on the popular Tumblr and bestselling book of the same name, Notorious RBG coincides with the 25th anniversary of her appointment to the Supreme Court bench and takes an entertaining yet rigorous look at her life and work—in particular her efforts to protect civil rights and expand equal opportunity for all Americans.
“With so much at stake on the Supreme Court, we encourage visitors to explore the American judicial system through the lens of one of its sharpest legal minds,” remarked Skirball curator Cate Thurston, who developed the exhibition with the book’s authors: journalist Irin Carmon, a senior correspondent at New York magazine; and attorney Shana Knizhnik, who founded the Tumblr that made RBG an Internet sensation (and even amused Justice Ginsburg herself).
Featuring archival photographs and documents, historical artifacts, media stations, gallery interactives, and contemporary art, the exhibition spans RBG’s life from student to lawyer, judge, women’s rights pioneer, and online phenomenon.
Inspired by Carmon and Knizhnik’s book, the exhibition playfully highlights the connection between Justice Ginsburg and the Notorious B.I.G.—both of whom were born and bred in Brooklyn, as RBG herself has proudly pointed out. With permission from Biggie's estate, section titles and other exhibition elements reference songs and lyrics by the late hip-hop legend, such as “I GOT A STORY TO TELL" (RBG's early life and education), “STEREOTYPES OF A LADY MISUNDERSTOOD” (RBG as activist) and “MY TEAM SUPREME” (her Supreme Court nomination).
Throughout the exhibit, there are 3D recreations of key places in RBG’s life, such as her childhood Brooklyn apartment, where visitors can flip through her beloved Nancy Drew books and get a feel for her Jewish upbringing.
Visitors can also sit behind a simulation of RBG's desk in her chambers, and view the 2018–19 Supreme Court calendar to see what cases will be decided by the justices in the near term.
Ten listening stations let visitors hear RBG’s delivery of oral arguments, majority opinions, and forceful dissents in landmark Supreme Court cases such as:
- US v. Virginia (regarding male-only admissions of the Virginia Military Institute)
- Bush v. Gore (regarding the 2000 US Presidential election)
- Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (regarding pay discrimination)
- Shelby County v. Holder (regarding voting rights)
RBG’s marriage to Martin “Marty” Ginsburg, her partner of more than fifty years, is celebrated through family snapshots and other materials from their life together, including their home kitchen and some of Marty’s favorite recipes and cooking utensils. Spoiler alert: you're going to tear up after reading Marty's final handwritten letter to RBG.
In November 2016, RBG - a longtime opera fan - made a cameo appearance as the Duchess of Krakenthorp in Gaetano Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment at the Kennedy Center. RBG's costume from that cameo is on display at the Skirball.
A final section showcases RBG-inspired art by artists such as Roxana Alfer Geffen, Maira Kalman and Ari Richter, as well as a costume designed by Isis Mussenden and worn by Felicity Jones in the forthcoming feature film On the Basis of Sex, based on the true story of a young RBG.
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is now on view at the Skirball Cultural Center through March 10, 2019. Entry is included with paid admission to the museum. After its run at the Skirball, Notorious RBG will travel to several U.S. cities through 2022.
Docent-led tours of the exhibit will take place at the Skirball on Tuesday–Friday, 1:00–2:00 p.m.; and Saturday–Sunday, noon–1:00 and 1:00–2:00 p.m.
Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles 90049