CLEVELAND, Ohio — “May her memory be a blessing, and a revolution.”
The traditional Jewish saying took on a new coda for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, on the eve of the Jewish New Year, at age 87.
The unlikely pop culture icon — dubbed the Notorious RBG, a play on rapper Biggie Smalls’ Notorious B.I.G. nickname — inspired women around the country with her defense of women’s rights. She also inspired movies, Halloween costumes, statement necklaces, Twitter feeds, books and the Notorious RBG museum exhibit coming to Cleveland.
From Feb. 21 through August, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood will host “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” The retrospective was organized by the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, based on the bestselling book by journalist Irin Carmon and attorney Shana Knizhnik.
“What an incredible way to honor her legacy,” said Dahlia Fisher, the Maltz museum’s director of external resources. “The urgency that people may feel to go and experience her, in her presence. I feel glad for them that they have the opportunity to sort of mourn in that way, by being in an exhibit.”
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The exhibition, which is arranged in sections with titles inspired by Notorious B.I.G.’s lyrics, examines Ginsburg’s life, beginning with recreated room from her childhood Brooklyn apartment, complete with her beloved Nancy Drew books. It focuses on her work to protect civil rights and expand equal opportunity for all Americans, with archival photographs, home videos, documents, contemporary art and artifacts, including Ginsburg’s Supreme Court robe and lace jabot.
Although there may be changes to meet COVID-19 guidelines, the exhibit originally included black robes for museum-goers to try on and pose on a replica Supreme Court bench.
There’s a replica kitchen where Ginsburg’s husband, Marty, cooked and the official portraits of Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to ascend to the nation’s highest court, from the National Portrait Gallery.
The Maltz Museum will have the exhibit, which has been shown in Philadelphia and is currently in Skokie, Illinois, longer than originally planned. Fisher expects the museum will issue timed tickets, so visitors have more space inside the exhibit, which she expects will be popular.
Already the museum has RGB action figures and T-shirts in its gift shop.
“This couldn’t be more relevant,” Fisher said. “As soon as our exhibitions manager brought this to our attention, we were like how quickly can we get this into our museum? We were so excited!”
Related: ‘RBG’ documentary to screen in Cleveland
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