Feminism and Museums

"Inspiring and challenging." Katy Ashton, People’s History Museum
"Invigorating and inspirational." Dr. Lara Perry, University of Brighton
"A behemoth enterprise." Prof. Jenni Sorkin, University of California
"Sorely needed." Julie Ward, MEP
"Invaluable... A must-read." Elissa Auther, Museum of Arts and Design, NYC
"An important, dynamic contribution." Prof. Sarah Perks,
Manchester Metropolitan University
Mention “feminism” outside of sociology or politics and you're often met with an eye-roll or confusion. However, the hard reality is that females remain a highly oppressed group globally: deemed inferior, suffering from violence and slavery, and denied educational, economic and political opportunities.

In two volumes (1,344 pages), Feminism and Museums explores how museums are responding to these wider socio-political challenges, in which they too play a part. In an unprecedented range, depth and variety of case studies and analyses these volumes present feminist actions, interventions and disruptions which are impacting the processes of collecting, learning, interpretation and engagement in today's museums, galleries and heritage organisations.

In 57 chapters, creative resistance by both high-profile galleries and grassroots activist collectives is presented, and issues of colour, disability, domestic abuse, indigenous rights, labour, land use, migration, pornography, rape, refugees, sexuality, sex-work, technology and work examined.

Feminism and Museums creates a space of creativity, conversation and confidence, of dialogue and new knowledge, building on the ambitious practice and perseverance of museum workers worldwide, and bringing together new voices, contexts and methodologies to both inform and inspire.


Maura Reilly | Executive Director, National Academy of Design, New York City

Jenna C Ashton | Founder and Creative Director, Digital Women’s Archive North, Manchester

On Feminist Curating: An Interview with Amelia Jones
Amelia Jones | Robert A Day Professor, Roski School of Art & Design, University of Southern California

Citizenship and the Museum: On Feminist Acts
Elke Krasny | Professor of Art & Education, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna

Guerrillas in our Midst: A Museum Director’s Appeal for a New Feminist Agenda 
Kaywin Feldman | Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President, Minneapolis Institute of Art

Women’s Laps as Intimate and Complex Spaces
Melanie Sarantou | Post-Doctorate Researcher, University of Lapland, Finland

Women’s Museums: Hubs for Feminism
Astrid Schönweger | Coordinator, International Association of Women’s Museums

Claiming Space and Being Brave: Activism, Agency and Art in the Making of a Women’s Museum
Adele Patrick | Co-founder and Lifelong Learning and Creative Development Manager, Glasgow Women’s Library

The Women’s Art Library
Althea Greenan, | Curator, Women’s Art Library, London

Birth Rites Collection: The Curator’s Perspective
Helen Knowles | Curator, Birth Rites Collection

Birth Rites and the Health and Social Care Professions: A Midwifery Critique
Fiona MacVane Phipps | Senior Lecturer for Midwifery Research, University of Salford

#WOMENSART and @womensart1: A Case Study
P L Henderson, | Writer and Artist

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

Girl Museum: Using Digital to Showcase Feminism in Cultural Heritage
Ashley E Remer (Founder and Head Girl) and Tiffany Rhoades (Program Developer) | Girl Museum

The Women’s Museum in Denmark: From Women’s History to Gender Culture
Merete Ipsen | Co-Founder and Director, Women’s Museum in Denmark

Indigenous Women, Intersectionality and Activism at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights
Karine R Duhamel (Curator for Indigenous Rights) and Julie Peristerakis (Curator for Activism and Social Change) | Canadian Museum for Human Rights

The Women’s Museum of Ireland
Holly Furlong | Museum Educator, National Museum of Ireland

The Gender Museum in Ukraine: A Museum for Dialogue
María Sánchez García | Cultural Manager and Visual Artist

(En)gendering “Undisciplined” Space: Reflections on Precarious Assembly 
Sara Spies (Senior Lecturer in Dance, University of Chester) and Dani Abulhawa (Senior Lecturer in Performance, Sheffield Hallam University) | Accumulations Collective

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

Bringing Daphne Back: Archival Research and Artistic Collaboration
Catherine Bell | Associate Professor Visual Arts, Australian Catholic University

She. The Title of the Artist: Female Artists in the Russian Imperial Academy of Arts
Iaroslav Volovod | Assistant Curator, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow

Reframing Ophelia: Feminist Interventions at the Tweed Museum of Art
Jamie L Ratliff (Assistant Professor of Art History) and Anneliese Verhoeven (Lead Exhibition Designer, Tweed Museum of Art) | University of Minnesota-Duluth

La Emancipada: A Feminist Art Collective in Ecuador
La Emancipada | Quito, Ecuador

Monstrous Daughters
Julie McNamara | Artistic Director, Vital Xposure, London

A Feminist Curatorial Art Practice Between Cuban and Cuban-American Artists
Leslie C Sotomayor | Doctoral Candidate, Pennsylvania State University

Female Extension: A Cyberfeminist Intervention
Merle Radtke | Graduate Program Fellow, Academy of Fine Arts, Hamburg 

Meera Margaret Singh: Echoes, Laughter and Female Bodybuilders
Paola Poletto | Manager of  Adult Learning and Residency Programs, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

Making Women’s Archives Travel with the WAL App
Ana-Maria Herman | Research Associate, Women’s Art Library, London

Off The Cuff: Thinking Through My Feminism
Jennifer Reid | Performer of Traditional Ballads and Songs

The Politics of Practice
Anne Louise Kershaw | Co-Director, Instigate Arts, Manchester


Dr. Jenna C Ashton is a researcher, writer, curator and artist working in the areas of heritage, archives, visual culture and the arts.

She specializes in women’s cultural heritage, spatial agency and activism, and participatory practices – intersecting with disciplines of art history, sociology, health, and geography. Her work is concerned with developing and evidencing methodologies of inclusive representation and heritage participation which support policy advocacy and social change for women and girls internationally.

Jenna holds an MA and PhD in Art History and Visual Studies from the University of Manchester.

She is Creative Director and Founder of Digital Women’s Archive North [DWAN], an arts and heritage organization supporting women and girls to identify, collect, disseminate and celebrate their cultural heritage through arts and digital interventions.

Her roles also include Global Cultural Fellow with the Institute for International Cultural Relations, Edinburgh University; Honorary Research Fellow in Sociology, University of Manchester; and curatorial advisor and research partner on women’s histories, arts and activism with the National Trust.

Twitter: @dwarchivenorth

Katy Ashton | Director, People’s History Museum, Manchester
The breadth and depth of contributions from individuals and institutions in Feminism and Museums is engaging, inspiring and challenging. The task for us all is to read, to reflect and to respond. We need to continue to build on the thinking and the work that has come before, what is happening now and to do even more in the future – to be more ambitious, to shout louder and to involve more people in the discussion and debate. Our sector has so many opportunities to explore feminism through art and culture – let’s use this collection to inspire us all to do more!

Micol Hebron | Artist, Curator and Associate Professor, Chapman University, Southern California
From birth-rites to sex rights, cyberfeminism to the space of the woman’s body, post-structuralism to social practice, intimacy to institutional critique, Feminism and Museums offers a complex and comprehensive examination of the global issues affecting women in the arts and beyond. It serves to both rewrite and refocus museum studies through the much needed lens of women’s histories, but also provides a roadmap for moving forward in culture and society in a more integrated, intersectional, and conscientious way than we have seen before. This book should be required reading for all arts programmes – studio art, art history, and curatorial studies alike.

Jenni Sorkin | Associate Professor, History of Art & Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara
Feminism and Museums is a behemoth enterprise that provides global context and case studies for the perseverance and strength of feminist art making, programming, and interventions that work against the structural inequities of cultural organizations, museums, and spaces worldwide. The importance of these two volumes transmits the continuity of a profound commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and representation that has been largely pioneered by women cultural workers everywhere.

Lara Perry | Principal Lecturer and Programme Lead, History of Art and Design, University of Brighton
This collection captures the vibrancy and urgency of the feminist work that is remaking museums all around the world. Invigorating and inspirational.

Angela Dimitrakaki | Programme Director of Modern and Contemporary Art and Senior Lecturer of Contemporary Art History and Theory, University of Edinburgh
This is not a book about "art" or "museums". Rather, it is a monumental document on the impact of a transnational social movement (feminism) on an institution (museum) that has shaped a global, discontinuous, contested modernity. As such, it is an invaluable and timely intervention, testifying to the complexity but also ubiquity of struggles for recognition and social change. It is a political work, made up of many and diverse voices, that deserves to be studied carefully. The analyses brought together here will resonate in many contexts, including the practice of curating, debates on sex as work, feminist historiography, and cultural critique.

Elissa Auther | Windgate Research and Collections Curator, Museum of Arts and Design, New York City, and a Visiting Associate Professor at the Bard Graduate Centre
This collection is an invaluable contribution to the developing field of feminism and museums that highlights some of the most interesting work being done today. A must-read for curators, scholars and students.

Sarah Perks | Artistic Director of Visual Art, HOME and Professor of Visual Art, Manchester Metropolitan University
This book comes at a vital time for all discourse around museums, galleries, collecting and the role of public institutions. How can any museum justify an unequal exploration of anything, however historic? Why does accepted discourse on diversity seem so far from actual reality and practice? Feminism and Museums is an important contributionto debates raging across international landscapes of museum and gallery studies and all conversations on feminism. This dynamically edited collection of contributors, continents and case studies suggests many ways forward.

Inna Shevchenko | Feminist activist and the leader of international women's movement FEMEN
This unique work about feminism and art compellingly demonstrates the "art of feminism". It is a powerful, rich and profound piece of work from academics, museum directors, art curators, artists and activists. Enormously helpful book that will both inform and inspire the reader.

Julie Ward: Member of the European Parliament for the North West of England
Feminism is under attack everywhere, even in the places where seeds had been sown and watered. Dr Ashton's edited volumes are therefore sorely needed in order to help provide an historical understanding of why we must continue to fight for true gender equality, and how we might do that by drawing inspiration from feminist actors globally. The invisibility of women in all areas of public life has its roots in an ancient patriarchy that relegated females to window dressing. The diverse stories of our sex were not told in the great cultural institutions built by conquering empires, or else our experiences were marginalised so as to maintain the macho status quo. The Women's Museum movement is one attempt to redress the imbalance, and these welcome volumes provide a wider framework of reference.

Feminism and Museums: Intervention, Disruption and Change. Volume 1
Editor Jenna C Ashton
Pages 624
Colour illustrations 113
Size 216 x 140 mm
Publication December 2017
Editions £75 [paperback] | £100 [hardback] 
ISBN 978-1-910144-97-8 [paperback] | 978-1-910144-98-5 [hardback] 

Feminism and Museums: Intervention, Disruption and Change. Volume 2
Editor Jenna C Ashton
Pages 624 (est)
Colour illustrations 100 (est)
Size 216 x 140 mm
Publication February 2018
Editions £150 [paperback] | £90 [eBook] 
ISBN 978-1-910144-99-2 [paperback]  

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