Monday, February 08, 2010

Girl Museum

Martha Hastie’s self-portraits and first diary entry for 1881,
courtesy of the Archives of Ontario

Via the Girl Studies network, news about the (somewhat) recent launch of the first official exhibit of the Girl Museum. The Girl Museum describes itself as the "first and ONLY museum in the world dedicated to the celebration of girlhood." An online initiative, the museum is virtual but comprehensive, focusing on research and exhibitions exploring various aspects, issues and experiences of girlhood...both historic and contemporary, as well as across a variety of different cultures. The project's first exhibit, Defining Our Terms, is actually an introduction to the Girl Museum and its upcoming exhibitions (including Girlhood in Art, Art of Girlhood, Girls in the World and GirlSpeak...an interactive community outreach series). In addition to the exhibit, there's a lot of information on the site about the museum's aims and mission, including the following statement of terms:
Why Girl Museum?

History can be broken down into endless material and esoteric categories that when labeled and displayed can yield both vital and useless information. As a result, there are thousands of museums in the world dedicated to themes from torture to lunchboxes. Out of this vast range of objects and data, Girl Museum dedicates its purpose to the valuable and overlooked topic of ‘girlhood’. There are many children’s museums, yet few look at childhood itself as the subject.

Women’s museums are also becoming more prevalent. While they often include girls, Girl Museum specifically focuses on them. Taxonomically, girlhood is a subset of both child and womanhood. However, we want to examine this universally experienced yet highly individualized state of being as a freestanding idea worthy of its own platform.

Also worth a gander is the all-star line up of girlhood scholars that the Museum has on its Advisory Board:
Rachel Devlin, Associate Professor of History, Tulane Univeristy
Catherine Driscoll, Associate Professor, Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney
Miriam Forman-Brunell, Professor of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Mary Celeste Kearney, Associate Professor of Radio-Television-Film, University of Texas at Austin
Claudia Mitchell, Professor, Faculty of Education, McGill University
Ilana Nash, Assistant Professor of English and Women's Studies, Western Michigan University
Jacqueline Reid-Walsh, Associate Professor of Education, Penn State University
Kelly Schrum, Associate Professor, Center for History and New Media, George Mason University
Lynne Vallone, Professor of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University
Valerie Walkerdine, Research Professor, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University

Check out the site to find out more about some of their fascinating, ongoing projects. For instance, the virtual HEROINE QUILT, which is taking initial submissions until Feb.12th (this Friday!), sounds like a great new iteration of Open Source Embroidery and the parallels that Sadie Plant draws between women, computers and weaving. Looking forward to seeing how it manifests.

In addition to needing some help spreading the word, the Girl Museum is also looking for suggestions about exhibit themes, partnership opportunities, educational materials, curricula, advice about funding, volunteers, contributors, etc. If interested, drop them a line!

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