From 25th to 27th January 2019 the initiative for a women’s museum in Canada, represented through Darlene Clover, Nancy Taber, and Kathy Sanford, invited the coordinator of IAWM to the workshop in Lisbon:
Feminists and feminisms in museums and art galleries:
International knowledge exchange and engagement with common research issues
It was the goal of the workshop to present and discuss research ideas and findings, which are still in progress.
Emilia Ferreira (Portugal) – Welcome to Portugal and NMCA
The host of the workshop Emilia Ferreira, director of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Lisbon gave us a warm welcome. In the opening notice she explained very clearly what it means to be a feminist director of a national museum. Especially of a national museum with a special status, because it was one of the first museums of contemporary art in the world. As feminist director she is looking at her daily routine from a feminine point of view.
This year she is planning five exhibitions around female topics. She herself has researched gender in Portuguese museums and sent 5 questions to 31 university professors. The outcome was, that men do not include gender as a category in their thinking, if someone is doing that, it is women. Women and men have different languages and gender is often a non-issue.
Emilia Ferreira, Monteiro, & Moreira – The invisibility cloak: Are museums and collections still veiling women artist’s work with disinterest and demeaning words
Emilia Ferreira conducted this research together with her two colleagues Monteiro and Moreira.
Moreira is a visual artist, researcher, and mediator and works at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Lisbon. She took a closer look at the statistics of the museum from 1994 until today. Since there was a fire at the museum in 1994, the statistics are only available from that year onwards. So she found out that since 1994 there were 132 individual exhibitions in total, including only 29 shows from female artists.
In the 75 group exhibitions at the museum, artworks of 1527 men were exhibited and only artworks of 290 women. Women on the other hand were often invited to contribute to issues like feminism, lesbian people, and gender. Often because they were friends with famous male artists. Since 2001 the museum has been purchasing more and more artworks from women, but the numbers are by far not equal. A significant change was reached only in 2017 and 2018. Through Emilia Ferreira becoming director of the museum in 2018 the museum purchased as many artworks from women as from men. It was also noticed that women usually were over 60 years old, before their works entered a museum. Men, on the other hand, often were only 20. Fact is, that today the collection with 5000 artworks includes only 7% of female artists, and the gender gap in the museums is still considerably high.
Montero, on the other hand, reported about an exhibition in a convent, but also about her research in art galleries around Portugal, where the findings were very similar to the ones of Moreira.
Astrid Schönweger (Italy) – International Women’s Museum Association
Astrid Schönweger presented the International Association of Women’s Museums (IAWM). She defined the term “Women’s Museum”, discussed why and when women’s museums were founded all over the world and what they are doing today. She presented the work of women’s museums through examples by member museums of IAWM with a special look on the question: “How do women and gender-oriented museums differ from other museums and places of memory? What is their contribution to cultures of remembrance?”. This was the topic of a workshop held at the conference “Feminist Pedagogy” organized by the Women’s Museum Istanbul and Sabanci University in October 2018. Continue reading