Women’s Museum and the Male Gaze

By Javon Blain

Around the world there are museums dedicated to almost everything. You have the Air and Space Museum, the African-American History Museum, the Holocaust Museum, and many others. These museums are very beneficial and it can teach everyone at least one thing about the past and present. This blog will focus on women’s museums and how they serve to satisfy the male gaze.

The National Women’s History Museums was founded in the year 1996 in Alexandria, Virginia.[1] This museum is dedicated to women of all backgrounds and professions. In this museum exhibits talk about women in NASA, women scientists, and many other accomplishments by women. The one thing that I dislike is how long it took for this particular museum to even come alive. Women have played a major role in the history of America and a lot of things that we have now would not be here if it were not for women. This shows us how even something as educational as this still satisfies the male gaze. Some men do not want to see the accomplishments of women because a strong woman can be seen as a threat to them. Some men claim that all women do is grumble and complain but it’s really never the women that do this. Nine times out of ten it’s the men who grumbles and complain when they do not get their way.

Mary Anderson
RuthWakefield

I am thankful for museums like this that are dedicated to women because they teach us that women did way more than just be a housewife. They ran the factories while the men were at war and did a better job than the men. Women also created things that we use in our everyday life. For example, the Windshield Wiper was created by Mary Anderson in 1903. Also the chocolate chip cookie was created by Ruth Wakefield in 1930.[2] These are just a few of the many inventions that women created, and these need to be known to the world through things such as museums. There needs to be more museums around the world that will step on the toes of men and let them know that women have done and are still doing things that effect the world in a positive way.

Another museum that is dedicated to the works of women around the world is the National Museum of Women in the Arts. This museum actually opened up before the NWHM on April 7, 1987 also this museum was not open to the public until April of 1987. The NMWA is strictly dedicated to women in arts unlike the NWHM is dedicated to all women’s history particular in the workforce.

Frieda Kahlo

A few fun facts about this museum that the NMWA is the only museum in the world that is dedicated to showing the work of women artist. It has also presented nearly three hundred special exhibits from women around the world. Also this museum is the only museum in Washington, D.C. where you will find a Frida Kahlo painting.[3] This museum is the only museum like this of its kind. It also seems to be the only one like it. Other arts museums are mainly showing a mixed group of art from both men and women. Then you have some museums that are solely dedicated to men’s art. This again shows us the impacts that the male gaze has on museums. It’s rare to see a museum that is strictly dedicated to women’s work without something dealing with men in it as well. It seems as if the men of America do not want to be left out if women try to do something for themselves but never fully support then when they do step out on their own.

I believe that there is a strong need for more women’s history museums around the world because we do not learn a lot about the accomplishments of women in our text books. Everything that we read about men are things that are mainly common knowledge. Learning about women’s history will show diversity and another side of women that people do not know besides the general housewife that most people think that women can be. Another thing I believe is that women’s museums are beneficial to young girls. Dr. Ina Seethaler who is the director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program once stated “you can’t be what you can’t see”. Therefore, I believe if young women and girls do not see women being scientist, lawyers, artist, educators, or any other profession besides being a house wife or someone who always has to depend on their husband, then they will not know that it is okay for them to spread their wings and be the extraordinary women that they are called to be.

Sources:

[1] “About Us.” National Women’s History Museum. Accessed November 15, 2017.

https://www.nwhm.org/about-us

[2] Jessica, Samakow. “11 Crucial Inventions You Can Think Women For.” The Huffington Post. March 01,

  1. Accessed November 15, 2017. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/11-crucial-inven

-you-can-thank-women-for_us_56d51097e4bf0dab3349e0

[3] “National Museum of Women in the Arts.” FUN FACTS | National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Accessed November 15, 2017. https://nmwa.org/fun-facts.

 

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