Heroines of Literature – Get Lost In Its Brilliance!

The new exhibit, Literary Heroines: Their Times, Their Fashions, at the Putnam Museum is a brilliant blend of literature, fashion and book art. My monthly book club, Reading Between the Wines, decided that this was a fun way to celebrate literature. One of our members made our reservations at the Putnam Museum for the special luncheon which was designed specifically to attract book clubs.

Relationship Advancement Director, Michele Darland, greeted us at the front door of the Putnam and escorted us to luncheon area. The bright and sunny atrium area that has one of the finest views of the Mississippi River was the lunch venue. The tablescape was memorably created with pages from books and a vase of fresh flowers. Several lunch options had been given to us when we made reservations including a chicken salad sandwich, a wedge salad, a meat dish, and a chicken dish. I chose the Parmesan Chicken which was excellent.

Creative Tablescape
Delicious Lunch


Trio Of Desserts

After lively conversation and a leisurely meal, we were taken to the exhibition area. The exhibit impressed us as soon as we entered the room. Attention to detail by the curators was apparent immediately. The placement of the various book vignettes enticed us to enter and move from one exhibit case to another. It was brilliant to not only feature the heroines of loved literature but to also include the fashion of the period of the book, and the art of the book covers.

Death At Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood
(Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries)


Memoirs Of A Geisha by Arthur Golden
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Actors that engage the exhibit-goers was one of my favorite aspects of the exhibit. Being an artist myself, I conversed with the actor who was in the character of the Canadian artist, Emily Carr. She was the heroine of the book, The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland. The actor conversed with me one-on-one from the point of view of the character. Didn’t I say that this is a brilliant exhibit? Actors are only in the exhibition area on Saturdays and Sundays so attend one of those days to get the full feel of the exhibition. Actors are rotated so all the books are covered as the exhibition weeks go by. I would go during the week and then again on a weekend.

Actor in Character of Artist, Emily Carr, from Book, The Forest Lover
Vignette For Local Author, Susan Glaspell

“The exhibit also features inspirational stories of Hometown Heroines through pre-recorded oral history excerpts from some successful local women. Included in our list of real-life heroines is Regina Tsosie, a Navajo activist for indigenous peoples; Maggie Tinsman, former Iowa State Senator and political activist; Zenaida Landeros, a Latina who works for women’s empowerment, and other strong, smart Quad-City women.”

Family friendly, this exhibit will please people of all ages who love a good book, beautiful historic fashion, and strong women in literature.

All Ages Enjoy the Exhibit

More Information From the Putnam Museum Website:

Book your luncheon, curator talk!

“Contact the Putnam Museum today to book a luncheon on the Putnam’s scenic Lardner Balcony and tour this one-of-a-kind exhibit! Perfect for book clubs, you can’t miss this opportunity — and chance to take part in a talk by exhibit curator Christina Kastell, entitled Women’s Roles in Society: Fashion and History.

The luncheon and exhibit is $20 per person. Enhance your group’s experience with a curator talk for only $65 more.

Contact Michele Darland at 563-336-7295 or mdarland@putnam.org and pick a date for a worry-free lunch! ”


Ever wonder what it’s like to meet Wonder Woman? You can mingle with her along with other Literary Heroines, like Elizabeth Bennet, Emily Carr and Laura Ingalls, as well as exhibit curator Christina Kastell during select weekends through November and in January.  An in-character heroine or Ms. Kastell will be serving as a guide during the following dates and times:

     • Saturday, Nov. 17: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
     • Sunday, Nov. 18: 1 – 3 p.m.
     • Saturday, Nov. 24: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
     • No Actors in December
     • Saturday, Jan. 5: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

     • Sunday, Jan. 6: 1 – 3 p.m.

For more information, please call 563-324-193


It’s not too late for your book club to read from the exhibit book list! Literary Heroines features characters and authors of the following:

     • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
     • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
     • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
     • Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini
     • Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
     • The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland
     • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
     • Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash
     • Miss Fisher Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood
     • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
     • The Atomic City Girls: A Novel by Janet Beard
     • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
     • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
     • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
     • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
     • Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
     • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
     • Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
     • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
     • Wonder Woman comic books by Charles Moulton

The Putnam Museum

1717 West 12th Street, Davenport, Iowa 52804
563-324-1933 or www.putnam.org

The Putnam will be closed/closing early on the following days:

Thanksgiving – Closed all day
Saturday, Dec. 8 – Closed all day to the general public
Sunday, Dec. 9 – Closed all day to the general public
Thursday, Dec. 13 – Closing at 4 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 14 – Closing at 1 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 15 – Closing at 1 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 16 – Closed all day
Christmas Eve – Open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
Christmas Day – Closed all day
New Year’s Day – Closed all day
Jan. 7–11 – Closed all day to the general public

In the event of an unexpected closing, please check our homepage for updated information.

The Putnam is open 7 days a week.

Monday – Saturday  10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday    Noon – 5 p.m.
The Putnam Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate.


About the author

Deborah Doehler As a life-time resident of the Quad Cities, Deborah is a multi-media artist who works in jewelry, painting, pottery, drawing, collage, and design. Deborah is retired from Black Hawk College after working for 35 years in Marketing as an award-winning graphic designer, writer, supervisor and graphics coordinator. Since 1975, she has had her own design company and studio. You’ll find Deborah serving on the Visual and Public Arts Committee for Quad City Arts where she was a board member for 8 years. She supports art and cultural events in the Quad Cities area including volunteering for events at MidCoast Fine Arts Bucktown Center for the Arts where she leases a gallery space. She served as Marketing Director for Riverssance Festival of Fine Arts for 15 years.

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