New Women-Only Philanthropic Society Selects Damsels of Design Exhibit for Award
At the 25th Anniversary Celebration, the Silver Pearl Sisterhood had their inaugural luncheon, generously provided by Sisterhood Founding Member and NCM Board Chairman Emeritus Leslie Gardner. The group was tasked with reviewing four Museum projects and voting on which one their funds would support.
On the ballot included five year naming rights to the Museum’s turntable exhibit, also giving the Sisterhood the opportunity to have a member’s vehicle showcased; naming rights and financial support of the Museum’s Fund A Field Trip program, providing visits to the Museum to underprivileged schools and students; a Women in Racing exhibit, highlighting women in the history of the sport including Betty Skelton and Donna Mae Mims. Ultimately, the project that was nearly unanimously voted for by the group was a Damsels of Design exhibit.
In the early years of the auto industry women weren’t paid much attention. Only in the postwar era did automakers start to think seriously about women. The mass move to the suburbs brought with it the two-car household and suburban female drivers. By the 1950s the biggest question in the car industry was, “How do we appeal to women?”
Harley Earl, the father of Corvette, decided the best way to sell more cars to women was to involve them in the design process. These designers were dubbed “Damsels of Design.” The women were trailblazers and acknowledge that GM provided a great opportunity for the advancement of women in the world of design.
This is just a glimpse of the many accomplishments of the Damsels of Design. Funding from the Elfi’s Silver Pearl Sisterhood will sponsor a “Damsels of Design” exhibit at NCM. The Sisterhood will have the naming rights for the lifetime of the exhibit. This creation and maintenance of this exhibit will be led by NCM Curator Derek Moore and his team. It will include artifacts pertinent to the story of the Damsels of Design and will feature interactive technology that will allow guests to learn more about this amazing group of women.
“We are excited the Sisterhood have chosen to support a new exhibit at the Museum with their funds,” said Director of Collections/Curator Derek Moore. “There are so many fascinating stories of the ladies of Corvette, and our new Damsels of Design exhibit will help tell not only that early story of Harley Earl’s team, but we hope to continue to grow and develop the female presence in our Museum with other unique stories.”
The amount awarded by the Sisterhood was $27,620.