Miss America unveils ‘A Woman Who Can’ exhibit in Oshkosh

Grace Stanke, Miss America, makes several stops in her home state of Wisconsin
Published: Feb. 19, 2023 at 9:13 PM CST
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - The Oshkosh Public Museum is sparkling thanks to personal loans from Miss America herself.

“This was my evening gown at Miss America,” Grace Stanke told Action 2 News while standing beside the white and gold dress. “I used it to compete and I was crowned Miss America in that gown so it’s really crazy being back here and seeing it again.”

But it’s not just the gown. Stanke’s crown, sash and drawings are part of the ‘A Woman Who Can’ display. She won the pageant at the age of 20.

“I hope every young girl stays true to who they are, what they want to pursue and believe in themselves because they are the women who can,” Stanke said.

“This entire exhibition’s been a great collaborative effort and we’re really grateful to Grace and the Stanke family for helping us get the items here so quickly,” Assistant Director and Chief Curator with the Oshkosh Public Museum Anna Cannizzo said. “I think that crown is everybody’s favorite on staff. We all just ‘ooo’d and aww’d’ over it when we saw it!”

Miss America spent Sunday taking photos, signing autographs and making connections.

“I met Grace and I think she’s really sweet and really kind,” 8-year-old Colbie Dalton from Fond du Lac said. “We talked about what I want to be when I grow up... I want to compete to be Miss America.”

The 1953 Centennial Queen of Oshkosh said Miss America left her speechless.

“I’m very grateful to have met this woman who is using her brain, her talent and her beauty to promote this wonderful country,” Carol Fenrich expressed. “We’re not only proud of having the Packers and the Badgers and cheese but we have the wonderful Miss America from Wisconsin.”

Grace Stanke is touring the state

One dress on display is green. It’s what Stanke wore during her social impact pitch called ‘Clean Energy, Cleaner Future.’ She’s a nuclear engineering student and a huge advocate of environmentalism.

“It’s talking about zero carbon energy, how we can adjust fossil fuels, how we can introduce more nuclear power into the globe around us...” Stanke explained. “I have that opportunity to connect with community members, to connect with Wisconsinites and have the conversations about what I’m doing as Miss America, how I promote nuclear energy, and how I continue to inspire women to go into STEM fields.”

The museum unveiling is part of Stanke’s February homecoming tour:

“Wisconsin is, I always say, such an easy state to represent because everyone is so kind. You know, Wisconsin nice really is real... For me personally it’s all about having that one conversation. That one connection to be able to change their worlds.”

The ‘Woman Who Can’ exhibit runs through July.