Jean Carnahan to open exhibit at Westminster

As a former Missouri first lady and the first Missouri woman to serve in the United States Senate, Jean Carnahan is considered an important and influential woman in her own right.

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Former U.S. Senator and Missouri First Lady Jean Carnahan

On Jan. 11, she will help honor others who hold that distinction as she opens the Outstanding Missouri Women Exhibit in a free public reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the National Churchill Museum in Fulton.

“I think it’s important we celebrate and honor women and what they’ve done,” said Carnahan, who is included in the special traveling exhibit sponsored by the Missouri Women’s Council. “Maya Angelou (who was born in St. Louis) said, ‘We need to celebrate not just our heroes, but our sheroes.’

“She also said, ‘Being a woman is hard work,’ and if you look at this list, I think every one of them would agree.”

In a press release, Director Rob Havers said the museum is honored Carnahan accepted the invitation to open the Outstanding Women of Missouri exhibit.

“She is a longtime champion of women’s issues and has been a pioneer in helping women advance in leadership roles in our state,” Havers said.

The exhibit showcases the accomplishments of 63 notable Missouri women, including former Fulton Sun publisher Betty Weldon, who also was renowned for her saddlebred horse farm; author Laura Ingalls Wilder; Susan Blow, the founder of the first public kindergarten in America; Gwen Giles, the first African American elected to the Missouri Senate; astronauts Linda Godwin and Janet Kavandi; and Cathay Williams, the only known female buffalo soldier.

Liz Murphy, archivist and curator for the Churchill Museum, said the museum decided to bring in the Outstanding Missouri Women exhibit “because it’s something that focuses on the achievements of actual women.”

“It mirrors very well another exhibit we had earlier this year (in March 2010) about the women in Churchill’s life,” Murphy said. “It’s just a way to honor Missouri women and honor the fact that women have done great things too. It’s a really great exhibit.”

Carnahan said the thing she is most excited about for the reception is “being on the campus again.”

“I love the Westminster campus and the church and the museum,” Carnahan said. “I don’t think people in the area realize what a treasure they have. I tell people about it all the time.”

For more information on the Outstanding Women of Missouri exhibit, visit the Web site at www.womenscouncil.org/cd_web/index.html.

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