Monday, 24 October 2016

WHO RUN THE WORLD?

SHE'S MY MUSE

BY: NATANIA SHERMAN

Hey, you can't argue with Queen Bey. (Source)
 This column is dedicated to women in museums. Women, defined in the most inclusive sense of the word (womyn, transwomen, women of colour, women in the LGBTQ2A community), have always figured in museums as subjects, employees, volunteers, curators, and founders. They aren't just as the nudes on the walls, although they too are an interesting topic.


Whoops. Sorry I meant to say "equality." (Source)
In an industry made up of predominantly women, where the top positions are still occupied primarily by men, it's important to recognize the contributions that women have made to the field. Although the industry is slowly changing, women are still experiencing a glass ceiling. despite that, Museum archives are replete with stories of women doing important work in museums. The Art Gallery of Ontario, for example, was largely sustained in it's formative years by a Women's Committee whose volunteer efforts actually helped the museum fundraise to acquire many of it's most well known pieces. 


Peggy Guggenheim collecting art with style. (Source)

Collecting is another way that women have contributed to museums as we know them. In Toronto, Sonja Bata, of the Bata Shoe Organization, founded her own museum, the Bata Shoe Museum to make her vast collection of shoes available to the public. While we're on the topic of collectors, let's not forget about Peggy Guggenheim, my own personal style icon, who is founder of the Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Guggenheim is now a household name thanks to her savvy eye for art collecting.

A Guerrilla Girls poster from 1989. The sad thing is it's still relevant. (Source)
Last year, I wrote this article about the Guerrilla Girls, an all female art collective whose guerrilla-style ad campaigns hold museums accountable for their lack of female representation. The Guerrilla Girls art reminds us that there's still a long way to go when it comes to giving women equal and just representation on museum walls. This isn't only a matter of including women artists in group shows but in representing topics and categories traditionally considered to be women's work. This can include showing traditional crafts and foodways that were primarily performed by women. It can also mean rewriting history to reimagine the past from a different perspective. This is just a short overview of some of the stories I plan to explore in future incarnations of this column. Now, more than ever it is imperative to continue to honour the work women have done both for museums and within them. I hope that you will join me for future articles so I can tell you all a little bit more about my museum muses.

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