Visit Our Newest Exhibition Located at the
Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel
April 1 through December 2023
Exhibit at the Asbury Park Public Library
Extended until May 13, 2023
They were the figures who helped write major chapters in a city’s history — the artists and activists, the authors and attorneys, the educators and entertainers, the mediums and the medics, the tavern owners and social justice warriors who brought a diverse but divided Gilded Age resort to the threshold of its 21st century rebirth.
Together, they were the “Trailblazing Women of Asbury Park” — and while some of their names may have been all but forgotten here in the new millennium, their often understated but always considerable impact continues to touch every aspect of contemporary life in the greater community. Beginning with its installation earlier this month, and continuing through Women’s History Month in March 2023, a new exhibit shines a long-overdue spotlight on the remarkable women who played a significant role in shaping the first hundred years (1871-1970) of the city’s story.
The latest in an ongoing series of “pop-up” exhibits created by the nonprofit Asbury Park Museum organization, the installation is currently on display in the Bradley Room of the historic Asbury Park Public Library, 500 First Avenue at Grand Avenue. Underwritten by Etan Grossman — and dedicated to his wife Diana Ambler, an accomplished career attorney and women’s rights advocate who graduated Asbury Park High School in 1967 — the project was curated by former Monmouth Museum executive director Avis Anderson and designed by Stan Cain, with contributions by the Museum’s team of board members and advisors from the realms of academia, business, journalism, and public service.
“While all of our exhibit subjects have passed on, this is an excellent opportunity for lifelong residents and newcomers of all ages to meet the ones who set the stage for modern Asbury Park,” explained Asbury Park Museum founder and president Kay Harris. “I believe that visitors to our exhibit will find these Trailblazing Women very inspiring, and relevant to our times.”
In addition to such legendarily local household names as restaurateur Ida “Mrs. Jay” Jacobs, boardwalk fortune teller “Madam Marie” Castello, and Upstage Club co-founder Margaret Potter, visitors to the exhibit will become acquainted with pioneers in the fields of social activism (Sarah Jane Corson Downs), commerce (Carrie Williams Turpin), medicine (Alice Bunce), and law (Jessie Vanderveer). Also on hand are a major player in the battle for LGBTQ rights (Maggie “The Cat” Hogan), a noted figure in the abolitionist, temperance and suffragist movements (Stephen Crane’s mother Helen Crane), an early winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry (Margaret Widdemer), a matriarch of the area’s Sand Hill Indians community (Restelle Richardson Revey), and the memorable Queen of Little Italy (Rosa Musto Benvenga) — as well as stars of vaudeville and Broadway, eminent physicians, vanguard Black journalists, and “First Lady of Asbury Park” Helen Bradley (whose legacy endures to this day in the naming of the city’s streets).
The public is invited to a free-admission opening reception for “Trailblazing Women of Asbury Park,” hosted at the Asbury Park Public Library from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 1. Call the Library at (732)774-4221 for days and hours of operation and visit apmuseum.org for more information on the Asbury Park Museum and its activities, including the “One Voice Is Not Enough” exhibit on the city’s music history; an installation that continues through January 2023 in the lobby of the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, before moving to the West Long Branch campus of Monmouth University.
The Asbury Park Museum is still in the process of finalizing a location for our permanent home. In the meantime we hope you will visit our rotating pop up exhibits at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel
Current Rotating Exhibit
One Voice Is Not Enough: Asbury Park’s Musical Diversity Since 1871
“Asbury Park Museum’s new pop-up exhibit, “One Voice Is Not Enough: Asbury Park’s Musical Diversity Since 1871” explores the many styles of early Asbury Park music. Pam and Charlie Horner have curated this exhibit on the first 100 years of Asbury Park music – a story told through stand-up banners, wall-mounted posters, a music soundtrack with 4 hours’ worth of selected recordings, two continuously running 35-minute informative slide shows (175 slides total) and two display cases full of Asbury Park artifacts. On display are items like Bobby Thomas’ personal copy of “Doll Face” plus Bobby’s handwritten lyrics from the flip side; Stormin’ Norman Seldin’s classic hat; an 1898 wax cylinder by J. W. Myers; and much more. Funded in part by a Diversity Innovation grant from Monmouth University, exhibit design by Stan Cain Designs, and hosted by the historic Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, click the button below for more details.
Asbury Park: 150 Years of Change and Transformation — A Segregated Seashore”
Funded in part by a Diversity Innovation grant from Monmouth University, and hosted by the historic Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, “Asbury Park: 150 Years of Change and Transformation — A Segregated Seashore” is a multi-media display that explores the dizzying highs and the devastating lows of this uniquely American city by the sea. The pop-up is a snapshot of the iconic buildings, memorable cast of characters, signature soundtracks, epic tragedies, natural disasters, and societal sea-changes that threatened its sandcastle dreams; all presented through the prism of a diverse but divided community. Click the button below for more details.
2018-19 Exhibition on the Boardwalk
In the Winter of 2018 – 2019, the Asbury Park Museum had a temporary exhibition on the Asbury Park boardwalk. Click the button below to see photos from it.