IAWM is changing: Goodbye to our coordinator, Astrid Schönweger

Jan 27, 2021

We have chosen to work in a field that operates off the beaten track. Very often we have to walk on narrow roads or to find new ways. This is not always easy. Still, it is a most important and fulfilling task; the world needs women’s and gender museums. I am convinced of that. – Mona Holm, President of IAWM

These are encouraging and inspiring words from the president of IAWM. They are needed especially now, in times of global change.

Our network is also involved in a process of change. After many years of dedication to IAWM, Astrid Schönweger has decided to follow a new path and has left her position as our coordinator as of 01.01.2021.

As we all know, cultural work takes a lot of persistence and patience, as does driving social change, and women’s projects. These tasks often involve volunteer work and Astrid has invested a considerable amount of energy and devotion to our network.

The idea for the International Network of Women’s Museums was born in 2000, through a partnership between the Women’s Museum of Merano and the Women’s Museum of Senegal. This vision was later realized through the commitment of the Women’s Museum in Merano by Astrid Schönweger and the director Sissi Prader.

In 2008 the 1st Conference of Women’s Museums worldwide took place in Merano, where the first working paper was discussed to strengthen the network and to prepare a foundation for future growth. In 2012, in Australia, the International Association of Women’s Museums was founded and was first registered with a seat in Germany with the help of the Women’s Museum in Bonn. Astrid Schönweger accepted the task to serve as our coordinator, and set off to enable IAWM to grow and become more visible. In 2015 IAWM‘s legal seat was transferred to Merano. The commitment of the Women’s Museum of Merano director Sissi Prader to expand upon the structure with the support of co-worker Judith Mittelberger at Astrid’s side, has been an additional asset.

Along the way many courageous women have contributed generously to the network. While there have been some setbacks, today there is no mistaking the fruits that this work has born. The network now unites some 60 museums, initiatives and organisations worldwide. Joint projects are initiated, congresses are organised, young museums are supported, and new collaborations are continuously taking place.

We would like to express our gratitude to Astrid Schönweger for all her efforts, and for all the hope and inspiration she has given us. She deserves great thanks for her pioneering work and also for her persistence in keeping the association visible and, above all, in motivating and engaging so many colleagues. It is important for all of us to continue to have sisters like Astrid as members of the association. While we will miss Astrid greatly as coordinator, we remain connected in friendship and wish her all the best for her future path.

After 20 years of collective visions, IAWM has become a strong network, ripe for change and looking to the future. The IAWM board has consulted and divided the coordinator’s duties among themselves. This is the first step until the next milestone in the history of this network: the Sixth International Conference of Women’s Museums to be held in-person and virtually in Hittisau, Austria on 31 August -04 September, 2021. Until then, further steps will be discussed about how to lead this network into the future.

And so we will continue forward. Strengthened, confident, and full of ideas.

The IAWM Board

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