NSLM toasts women and horses with ‘reinterpreted’ Rumph exhibition

The National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) in Middleburg, Virginia, has announced on its website the exhibition and silent auction of photography by Charles W. Rumph (American, 1932–2019) June 3 through September 17, 2023. "Women & Horses Revisited: Charles Rumph Photography, is a reinterpretation of Rumph’s 1996 landmark solo exhibition, Women & Horses: A Celebration, held at the International Museum of the Horse in Lexington, Kentucky.

The National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) in Middleburg, Virginia, has announced on its website the exhibition and silent auction of photography by Charles W. Rumph (American, 1932–2019) from June 3 through September 17, 2023.

‘Talent and determination’

Women & Horses Revisited: Charles Rumph Photography is a reinterpretation of Rumph’s 1996 landmark solo exhibition, Women & Horses: A Celebration, held at the International Museum of the Horse in Lexington, Kentucky,” the announcement reads. “It was the culmination of a photographic project in which he documented women in the American equestrian world and the wide variety of roles they had come to embody at all ages—from enthusiasts to professionals. The exhibitions offers a comprehensive and evocative view of the 1990s horse industry. Some are quirky and others gritty, yet all of the photographs resonate with the talent and determination of the women who inspired Rumph’s vision.”

I am attempting to truly celebrate the skill, daring, and competence of women in all the various ways in which they are engaged with horses. I have recorded images of women–young and not so young–in most parts of the horse world: as farriers, veterinary surgeons, therapists, owners, trainers, jockeys, teachers, exercise riders, hunters, competitors – riding, using and caring for all breeds from Thoroughbreds, Saddlebreds and Standardbreds, to ponies, draft horses and cutting horses. The exhibit illustrates the remarkable extent to which horses rely on and look to women.
–Charles Rumph

A poster from Rumph’s 1996 exhibition, which is being reinterpreted in a new NSLM exhibition. Source: Charles Rumph Digital Archive/NSLM

“After Rumph’s passing in 2019, his wife Shirley Z. Johnson (1940–2021), donated the collection, thousands of original slides, transparencies, photographs and archival materials to the NSLM with the plan that the majority of the photographic prints would be sold as a fundraiser after they were exhibited,” the announcement explains. “Later, she bequeathed funding to create an online repository to preserve Rumph’s legacy and his tribute to women and horses.

“Today, the Charles Rumph Digital Archive is housed on NSLM’s Internet Archive and five photographic have been added to the NSLM’s permanent collection,” museum officials go on to note. “It was Johnson’s profound wish that we celebrate Rumph’s accomplishment along with the capable women he highlighted, and it is with a deep sense of completion and honor that we are stewards of the digital repository and will present the exhibition Women & Horses Revisited: Charles Rumph Photography, along with the accompanying silent auction of photographic prints.”

Silent auction bidding opens on June 4; check back on the NSLM website for details.

‘Endurance’ exhibit closes this weekend

Meanwhile, Sunday, May 14 is your last chance to see “Endurance: Secretariat’s Triple Crown at 50” at NSLM.

The exhibition, which opened on January 26, marks the 50th anniversary of Virginia’s most famous racehorse, Secretariat, winning the Triple Crown of American flat racing (1973). This feat had not been achieved since Citation in 1948. Secretariat’s triumph captivated America, and its memory has become even more pronounced with time. Those who were witness to the Thoroughbred superhorse’s victory set out to document this historic event in print, photo and paint. 

Drawing from the National Sporting Library & Museum’s singular holdings, this spring saw the library’s Forrest E. Mars Sr. Exhibit Hall transformed into a celebration of the endurance of this sports hero’s story. 

About the National Sporting Library & Museum

The National Sporting Library & Museum is located in Middleburg, Virginia, the heart of horse country. Founded in 1954, the renowned research library and fine art museum highlight the rich heritage and tradition of country pursuits. Angling, horsemanship, shooting, steeplechasing, foxhunting, flat racing, polo, coaching and wildlife are among the subjects one can explore in the organization’s general stacks, rare book holdings, archives and art collection. The NSLM offers a wide variety of educational programs, exhibitions and family activities throughout the year, and is open to researchers and the public.

For more information, visit the museum’s website or call (540) 687-6542.

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