Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

October 19, 2018–March 10, 2019

About the Exhibition

With so much at stake on the Supreme Court, come explore the American judicial system through one of its sharpest legal minds. Coinciding with the twenty-fifth anniversary of her appointment to the high court, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first-ever retrospective about the famed associate justice and American cultural icon. 

Based upon the New York Times bestselling book of the same name, it was created in partnership with the book’s co-authors: journalist Irin Carmon, a senior correspondent at New York magazine, and attorney Shana Knizhnik, who founded the popular Tumblr that earned Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Internet fame (and amused the Justice herself). Like the book, the exhibition offers a visually rich, entertaining, yet rigorous look at RBG’s life and work. Through archival photographs and documents, contemporary art, media stations, and playful interactives, the exhibition tells the parallel stories of RBG’s remarkable career and the efforts she joined to expand “We the People” to include those long left out of the Constitution’s promises. By bringing to life RBG’s compelling biography and her commitment to our nation’s highest ideals, the exhibition invites visitors to participate in civic life and consider how the future of the Supreme Court impacts us all.

Woven throughout the exhibition are briefs and other writings by RBG, including some of her most famously searing dissents. In keeping with the spirit of Carmon and Knizhnik’s book, the exhibition riffs off the playful connection between the Notorious RBG and Notorious B.I.G. (as she likes to point out, they were both born and bred in Brooklyn, New York): for example, the name of each gallery section alludes to a song or lyric from the late hip-hop artist.

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About Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 15, 1933. She received her BA from Cornell University, attended Harvard Law School, and received her LLB from Columbia Law School. Ginsburg served as a law clerk to Judge Edmund L. Palmieiri of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York from 1959 to 1961. She then became associate director of the comparative law project sponsored by Columbia University, where she studied the Swedish legal system and produced the first official English language book on the subject. In 1963 Ginsburg joined the faculty of Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey. In 1972 she was hired by Columbia Law School, where she taught until 1980. Ginsburg served as a fellow at the Center for Advance Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California, from 1977 to 1978. In the 1970s Ginsburg litigated sex discrimination cases from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and was instrumental in launching its Women’s Rights Project in 1973. She served as general counsel of the ACLU from 1973 to 1980 and on the National Board of Directors from 1974 to 1980. President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the United States Court of Appeals from the District of Colombia Circuit in 1980. On June 14, 1993, Ginsburg accepted President Bill Clinton’s nomination to the Supreme Court and took her seat on August 10, 1993.