One of the current projects at the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame is the conservation and display of the Signature Quilt. The Signature Quilt is a centrepiece of the museum’s collection, a “patchwork of empowerment” containing the signatures of 343 Australian women who have been first in a variety of fields within Australia, their State or Territory or their community.
This unique object is very popular with visitors and has been on display continuously since 2003. We are committed to continuing to make it accessible to the public but in a way that properly conserves the Quilt. Through very generous efforts of individuals and local organisations, we have raised our own funds for the Quilt project, which have been supplemented by a successful Heritage grant from the Northern Territory Government. Conservator Carolyn McLennan visited us in October and has since provided us with a condition report that has formed the basis of our ongoing discussions as to how to best care for the Quilt, and make it accessible to our visitors. We are now ready to start work on the fit-out of the new display for the Quilt.
The Natinal Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame in Alice Springs, Australia is opening a new part of the permanent exhibition “What’s Work Worth” on Thursday, 21st September 2017.
The newly-added audio and audio-visual material draws, in part, on the experiences of women and men from all walks of life in Alice Springs to continue the discussion around attitudes and perceptions to women’s paid and unpaid work and ideas on how museums represent work, particularly women’s work, gender and objects.
“What’s Work Worth?” takes a broad look at Australian women’s experiences of work. It explores this through ordinary, everyday objects. It poses two sets of questions. First: though women’s work has changed dramatically in the last few decades, has it increased women’s worth? Was the fight for equality a radical or, as Germaine Greer has argued, a profoundly conservative act? Second: How do our ideas about gender mediate how we view objects? How do the objects we like, hate, use, own or don’t own, “gender” us? If it is true that children are conditioned by the objects they play with, is it possible that adults are also conditioned by the objects they use?