Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at Girl Museum? What goes into making the online museum you know and love? Well look no further, because our team at Girl Museum have kindly offered to give us an insight into their lives and what they do to make the Girl Museum world go around…
So let‚Äôs start at the very beginning with the one and only Ashley E. Remer, our Head Hirl and Founder of Girl Museum‚Ä¶
Where did the idea for Girl Museum come from? Has Girl Museum become what you first intended or has it evolved from the original vision?
Having always been a feminist and an advocate for children‚Äôs rights, Girl Museum seems like the logical trajectory of my life. The thought of Girl Museum itself was an evolution, alongside the development of the internet. I wanted to start my own company. I wanted to represent girls. I was an art historian and museum worker. By 2009, I had the necessary drive and felt the web would provide the best platform for delivering this odd idea I had about a virtual museum. And while Girl Museum has not strayed too far from my original vision, it is so much more than I could have dreamed of. Our community is so wonderful. I have been honored to work with all the great girls that have given their time to help build us into this great institution. I guess when I envisioned Girl Museum it was about the work I could do, but the best part has been the people I have met.
Why and how can a museum about girlhood help empower women?
It is our responsibility to represent girls and girlhood, to celebrate and make their lives important. Girls have been unimportant for millennia because unless they were of value to a man (a king or merchant), they were not even worthy of discussion. Girls of today become the women of tomorrow. Knowing and celebrating your history, who and what you have come from, gives girls a solid base to build their lives upon. So they are prepared to ask for equal pay and fair treatment and stand up for their rights and the rights of others not just to be heard, but also to be the ones speaking and leading from the front.
Would you define your institution as feminist? Why?
Yes. We are a feminist institution because our mission is to expose, analyse and advance representations of girls from throughout history. While there are MANY ways you can parse the term feminism, we take the view that feminism is about equality. So adding girls into a canon that has left them out is how we practice our feminism.
As Head Girl and Director of Girl Museum, what does a typical Girl Museum day look like for you?
SO many emails!!! I manage the back end of Girl Museum, along with help from the fantastic team. So this could be making sure the website is not down or compromised, dealing with cyberthreats, and fielding general inquiries. I also maintain communications with the team, make sure everyone is ok. Usually I work on 1 or more exhibitions or projects a day as well as planning.
Can you talk us through some of the other projects that you are, and have been, involved with in addition to your work at Girl Museum?
I wear several other hats besides Head Girl. My favorite of course is mother to my almost 3 year old son, Xander. He is a great reminder and prioritizer of the important things in life. And he is an opportunity for me to pass on my knowledge and experience to a son who will hopefully get closer to seeing a world of gender and racial equality. Another hat of mine is Creative Producer (or Executive Dreamer) at Dremer Productions. In this realm I help create and develop exhibitions outside of the girl focus at Girl Museum. My work has covered polar bears to bees, and rocket science to yacht racing.
What are the pros and the cons of being just on a virtual space?
The pros are plenty. We have very little overhead and our team lives all over the world. We are agile and can make things happen or respond to current events quite quickly. There are no light bills or contents insurance issues. We are always open and will always be free.
However, the cons are many. Not being able to physically interact with our community makes it more challenging to maintain and grow. And especially fundraise. This is a huge issue. I have met 3 people who have worked with us, out of the more than 80. I wish we could meet up more. But we do email, Skype and IM all the time, so communication is good. But the human side of things does take a toll for the sake of the output and freedom. We are all volunteers. If we raised enough money to pay salaries, which we hope to, then things will change out of legal necessity. But until then virtual life is the best option all around.
Do you have a favourite exhibit from the Girl Museum catalogue? If so, then why?
I love all of our shows. Some have real blood, sweat and tears in them. But if I had to say my favorite show, it will always be the first one, Defining Our Terms. This is Girl Museum‚Äôs manifesto and its purest form and intention. It always reminds me of where we came from and where we should be going.
Stay tuned for our next interview with the¬†formidable Tiffany Rhoades, Program Director and all around superstar!
Girl Museum Inc.
I remember when Ashley was just trying to get this started and it was not easy. She could have easily given up, but she didn’t. And I am really glad. It’s an awe inspiring site.
Good job Ashley and Rebecca! I really enjoyed this interview. You shared strong points and inside information with all museum dreamers. Look forward to reading more on this blog column.