Anonymous Was A Woman

Accessible, inspirational and urgent reading
Professor Sarah Perks
MIMA School of Art & Design, Teesside University

A profound commitment to diversity, inclusivity and representation 
Jenni Sorkin
Associate Professor, History of Art & Architecture
University of California, Santa Barbara

Inspirational stories for righting wrongs and growing inclusivity
Dr Lara Perry
Deputy Head, School of Humanities, University of Brighton

Feminism is a social justice movement that aims to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression -  and to change society for the better, for all.

Alongside class and race, gender fundamentally shapes our perceptions and beliefs. But issues of sex and gender are still largely ignored in many museums and galleries: the inequalities that exist in society are replicated in museum practice. And, in turn, these practices reinforce and reaffirm social inequality.

Anonymous Was A Woman is a 300-page positive, inspiringpractical reader, focusing on actions being taken within museums (including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Detroit Institute of Arts, Minneapolis Institute of Art, National Museums Liverpool, V&A and the Whitechapel Gallery) to address these issues, as well as new initiatives aiming to impact and change museums from the outside.

Featuring carefully selected texts from our two-volume Feminism and Museums, this book has a new Introduction by editor Jenna C Ashton, and each text has been reviewed and updated by the author. 

An inspiring book - a fascinating and scholarly collection of chapters
Dr Sarah Williams
Education and Professional Development, University of Huddersfield

Boldly and innovatively provides an excellent resource for feminist practices
J P Singh
Professor of International Commerce and Policy, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University, Fairfax (VA) and Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow, Robert Bosch Academy, Berlin


Do We Need a Feminist Agenda for Museums?
Jenna C Ashton | Institute for Cultural Practices, University of Manchester

Guerrillas in our Midst: A Museum Director’s Appeal for a New Feminist Agenda
Kaywin Feldman, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Guerrilla Girls: Is it even worse in Europe?
Nayia Yiakoumaki, Whitechapel Gallery, London

Anonymous Was a Woman: Collecting Cultures at the People's History Museum
Helen Antrobus, National Trust, London

Isabel Agnes Cowper: Photographer at the V&A Museum
Erika Lederman, V&A Museum, London

The Women's Art Library
Althea Greenan, Women's Art Library, London

Queer Feminist Strategies at the Walker Art Gallery
Charlotte Keenan McDonald, National Museums Liverpool

Meera Margaret Singh: Echoes, Laughter and Female Bodybuilders
Paola Poletto, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

Women in the Freud Museum
Sophie Leighton, Freud Museum, London

Project Home
Marina Tsekou, Anina Valkana and Eileen Botsford, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens

Frida's Choice: How Interdisciplinary Work Disrupts Patriarchal Narratives
Megan DiRienzo, Detroit Institute of Arts

Challenging Histories: Exploring Gender and Sexuality at the National Trust
Rachael Lennon, National Trust, London

This Is Us: The Empower Foundation Museum of Sex Work
The Empower Foundation, Thailand

Indigenous Women, Intersectionality and Activism
Karine R Duhamel and Julie Peristerakis, Canadian Museum of Human Rights

The Women's Museum of Ireland
Holly Furlong, Women's Museum of Ireland, Dublin

Female Extension: A Cyberfeminist Intervention
Merle Radtke, Kunsthalle Münster

A Piece of the Pie Chart at the LACMA Art + Tech Lab
Annina Rüst, Florida Atlantic University

WoCA Projects: How an Artist Intervention is Building Community
Lauren Cross, University of North Texas

Re-envisioning Hidden Herstories
R M Lewis (Angelou Centre, Newcastle) and Leonie Wiener (Northumbria University)

Claiming Space and Being Brave: Activism, Agency and Art in the Making of a Women's Museum
Adele Patrick, Glasgow Women's Library


In this chapter Freud Museum Curator, Sophie Leighton, describes how integrating the work of women artists into the museum opens important new dialogues with visitors.


Jenna C AshtonDr Jenna C Ashton is a curator and artist, research consultant, and Lecturer and MA Programme Director of Heritage Studies in the Institute for Cultural Practices, The University of Manchester. Her practice concerns the development of collaborative and creative feminist methods and analysis, working across heritage, arts, activism, place, care, ecology, and social justice.

She is the founder and Creative Director of the arts and heritage organisation Digital Women’s Archive North (DWAN), and in 2019, in collaboration with international women artists, she co-founded CIWA, the Centre for International Women Artists, a collective artist studio and gallery in Manchester, UK.

t: @heritagemcr

Professor Sarah Perks | MIMA School of Art & Design, Teesside University
Accessible, inspirational and urgent reading. Feminism, and its intersection across factors from ideas of care to the realities of class and race, is both an important critical lens and a call to activism, and this book’s strength is a range of practical, international case studies that exist both inside and outside of the official sector.

Jenni Sorkin | Associate Professor, History of Art & Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara
An activist endeavour, this volume transmits the continuity of a profound commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and representation that has been largely pioneered by women cultural workers everywhere.

Dr Sarah Williams | Education and Professional Development, University of Huddersfield
This is an inspiring book! It should be a companion for anyone who is committed to social justice and wishes to imagine and see a change in society for an equitable and better world. It’s a fascinating and scholarly collection of chapters which explores and challenges the status quo.

Dr Lara Perry | Deputy Head, School of Humanities, University of Brighton
Museums and related institutions have an opportunity in this moment to remake themselves to serve communities and fight inequalities even more effectively than they have in the past. The projects and propositions that are documented in this volume provide inspirational stories for the work of righting wrongs and growing inclusivity in museum work, museum programmes and museum audiences.

J P Singh Professor of International Commerce and Policy, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University, Fairfax VA, and Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow, Robert Bosch Academy, Berlin
This volume boldly and innovatively provides an excellent resource for feminist practices within conventional and alternative curatorial spaces, and the broad context of human rights and social justice issues.


Anonymous Was a Woman: A Museums and Feminism Reader
Editor Jenna C Ashton
Pages 322
Illustrations 59
Size 216 x 140 mm
Publication 14 September 2020
Editions £30 [paperback] | £25 [eBook] 
ISBN 978-1-912528-19-6 [paperback] 

Problem ordering online? Please email

Email us:

We offer all our readers an unconditional guarantee: if you decide this book’s not for you, simply return it to us for a full and prompt refund. 

Next → ← Previous


Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up-to-date with the latest releases, book extracts and free Reading Room chapters.