Showcasing Major New Happening at Workhouse Arts Center

If you haven’t been to the Workhouse Arts Center lately, there are good reasons to visit now. Under the protective arched brick canopy of the Workhouse’s walkways are two distinct cultural opportunities just steps away from each other.

One opportunity may be for those with an adventurist spirit and a desire to help in the completion of the new Lucy Burns Museum being built in honor of the Women’s Suffrage movement. The other is a family-friendly, treasure trove exhibition of original Fraggle Rock puppets and Muppet Babies comic strips. Together, the two demonstrate the eclectic, nature of the Workhouse as a Northern Virginia cultural destination.

FOR THE LUCY BURNS MUSEUM, progress continues with the refurbishment of the physical space; including original cells where Suffragists were once housed. Once open to the public, the Burns Museum will offer a rare experience. Visitors will be able to see refurbished cells and the long cell-block where women were imprisoned after marching in front of the White House to secure voting rights for women over 100 years ago. The women were fined, jailed and imprisoned for “obstructing free passage of the sidewalk.”

During a recent tour, Ava Spece, President and CEO of the Workhouse Arts Center, said that “The new Lucy Burns Museum is an exciting project that will be dedicated to the incredible chronicle of the Suffragists, their ordeal at the Workhouse Prison, and the significant changes to our society that resulted from their hard work and sacrifice.”

Laura McKie, chair, Workhouse Museum and History Committee noted that the refurbishment of the original cells is being funded by private donations. The private donations have also been used to enlarge the physical facilities as a welcoming venue for visitors. When opened to the public, the Burns Museum will have more than 8,000 square feet including the cell-block and areas for exhibitions, classes and field trips. Three key suffragist leaders will be highlighted in the museum: Lucy Burns, Alice Paul, and Dora Lewis.

For those with interest in learning about becoming a donor for the final fitting-out of the Lucy Burns Museum, there are reservation-required tours of the facility in the coming weeks. More information is available in the “where and when” box of this article.

FOR A FAMILY-FRIENDLY display to be seen nowhere else in the area there is a newly installed exhibition of original Muppet Babies comic strips from the 1980s and original puppets from the award-winning television show “Fraggle Rock.” The exhibition is “Imagination is the Medium: Guy Gilchrist and Bill Diamond.”

According to Jaynelle C. Hazard, Workhouse director of exhibitions, the installation aims to introduce close-up and explore the work of Gilchrist and of Emmy Award winner, Diamond, Jim Henson’s original illustrator and puppeteer.

The exhibition features a wide range of objects created throughout Gilchrist and Diamond’s careers. It is expected they will bring smiles to those to those who recall them from their youth or introduce them to their own children and perhaps grandchildren.

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