Bettina Bab elected first chair woman
Representatives of women’s museum worldwide met for the fourth international congress in Alice Springs, in the middle of the Australian desert from 19. – 21. May 2012. They met in the National Pioneer”s Women Hall of Fame, which exists since 1995 and exhibits the history of Australian women pioneers.
The meeting in Alice Springs was a milestone, because the members had decided in Buenos Aires in 2010 to ask the International Committee of Museums (ICOM), the biggest Association of museums worldwide, to be granted their own section for women’s museums in order to encourage their acceptance around the globe. Despite their 30 years of history – the first women’s museum was founded in Bonn in 1981 – some institutions are still struggling to survive financially. To be an affiliated section within ICOM it requires to be an international association with registered statutes. This is the first step, which now was taken in Alice Springs. Not only did the participants pass the articles and a resolution, but they also elected an executive board of six members from various continents. Bettina Bab (Germany) was elected the first chair woman of the new section, assisted by the deputy chairwoman Mona Holm (Norway), treasurer Sigrid Prader (Italy), secretary Catherine King (USA) and assessors Patricia Galeano (Mexico), Nguyen Thi Bich Van (Vietnam).
With Bettina Bab from Bonn being the chairwoman the “International Association of Women’s Museums” accordingly will be situated in Bonn. Bettina Bab: “The exchange in the network offers advantages for everybody: The cross-border exhibitions are not only motivating for the staff but also inspiring for the public. There will be more and even closer co-operations in the future. With the new association’s support it will be easier to apply for funding for the individual projects. One of the crucial aspects at the moment is to facilitate our colleagues in Africa and other newly industrialising countries to participate at international conferences.” The next congress will be in Xian, China in 2014.
The head of the cultural department of Bonn welcomes this decision: “I am very pleased with the fact, that all the issues of the women’s museums worldwide are managed and represented from Bonn now. That is an endorsement of the work of the Frauenmuseum in Bonn and fits superbly to the international profile of our city.”
History oft the network:
The network “WomenInMuseum” was founded in Meran in 2008 to exchange ideas, to realise new exhibition projects and to discuss initiatives to create new women’s museums. Of the more than 50 museums worldwide and initiatives, they have many aspects in common: Nearly all of them were founded as private initiatives because the history and art work of women has never been sufficiently presented in the traditional museums.
Just like all women’s and gender museums the new association aims to promote women’s history and culture, and to create an awareness of women’s issues in order to contribute to a more egalitarian society. The activities of the museums are regularly published on the joined homepage www.womeninmuseum.net.
Besides special exhibitions many museums also organise events about current political and social topics. In addition, some of the museums offer a variety of workshops. In particular women’s museums in Gambia and Senegal are very active in organising courses e.g. in alphabetisation and traditional handcraft, sometimes even on topics such as family planning and birth control.
Many women’s museums had to fight for a minimum of one or two permanent jobs, rarely more. The Danish women’s museum in Aarhus is an exception because it is a national museum and has therefore a higher budget. The situation of the two Vietnamese women’s museums is unique as they were founded by the state and can work with a staff of 40 employees. The rest of the museums can only dream about it.
Accordingly the new association is concerned with raising the official authorities’ awareness for the necessity of women’s museums and their financial support.
In May 2012 Elsa Ballauri started a private women’s museum in her parent’s house in Tirana. With only very few museums in Albania this opening represents a cultural renaissance in a double sense. There are many initiatives to found new museums even in some Islamic states. In the case of Izmir (Turkey) a group of committed women and the mayor wanted to oppose the rather misogynic convictions of the fundamentalist movement. The Iranian women’s right activist Mansoureh Shodjaiee is planning a women’s museum in Iran. The solidarity of the other women’s museum in the world is the engine on her way to realising her project.
Das Bonner Frauenmuseum wurde 1981 von der heutigen Direktorin Marianne Pitzen und einer Gruppe interdisziplinär arbeitender Frauen gegründet. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt existierte weltweit noch keine Institution gleichen Namens oder vergleichbarer Zielsetzung. Das Frauenmuseum ist kein statischer Ort mit festem Bestand, sondern ein lebendiges Haus, das sich aus der Fülle der weiblichen Kreativität und Vielfalt immer wieder erneuert.
Mehr als 2.500 nationale und internationale Künstlerinnen haben Im Krausfeld ausgestellt, 600 Ausstellungen wurden durchgeführt, darunter 30 “Riesenprojekte” auf jeweils 2.000 qm, 200 Kataloge ediert und mit mehr als 1000 Veranstaltungen wissenschaftlich oder spartenübergreifend untermauert. In den Archiven wird zu Geschichte, Zeitgeschichte und Kunst gesammelt, allein die Bibliothek der Künstlerinnen umfasst 12.000 Kataloge. Die Sammlung wächst stetig; sie ist ausschließlich auf Schenkungen angewiesen: Nachlässe, Stiftungen, Sponsoren.
Marianne Pitzen und ihr Team sind auch neue Wege gegangen – das Kinderatelier, die Kunst- und Designmessen – sind Projekte, die in den letzten 10 Jahren entstanden sind. Der Aufbau des historischen Bereichs ist in den letzten Jahren stärker in den Focus gerückt. Das Frauenmuseum verbindet auf einzigartige Art und Weise Geschichte mit Gegenwartskunst.
Für das Ausstellungsjahr 2012 steht u.a. unter der Schirmherrschaft von Ute Schäfer (Kulturministerin NRW) ab Mai bis November ein Großprojekt an: “DAS GRÜNE HAUS” – Ein Projekt in drei Teilen:
Den Verwandten & Tieren
Mary Bauermeister – Kulturgewächs – Spektrum über 60 Jahre (22.4.-19.8.2012)
Den Verwandten & Tieren (6.5.-19.8.2012)
Raum + Bau. Die Rationale III zu Architektur und Städtebau (2.9.-11.11.2012)