Aubrey M. Clark, Master’s candidate at SUNY Buffalo, published her thesis on “Museums, Feminism, and Social Impact” featuring a chapter on Girl Museum. Her thesis explores the history of women within the context of museums – a history that she states, “has often encouraged collaboration and empowerment of marginalized groups.”
Clark provided a survey of existing literature on feminism and museums, followed by biographies of a few notable female curators: Margaret Mead, Dorothy Canning Miller, Mildred Constantine, Lowery Stokes Sims. She also looked at organizations in the Middle East, including curators Raneen Bukhari and Adelina von Furstenberg, in order to encourage global thinking. It concludes with an analysis of today’s feminist principles applied specifically to the museum.
In her analysis of Girl Museum, Aubrey states, “Girl Museum is an excellent example of what it means to be a feminist curator–that is, giving voice to a historically underrepresented group and brainstorming creative methods to empower their target audience […] …it is the epitome of a global museum. The Girl Museum goes further than Elke Krasny’s definition of a feminist museum that has adapted the notion of global citizenship, because The Girl Museum is a boundless, digital museum that can be accessed anywhere in the world that has an internet connection. A visitor to The Girl Museum will not receive censored content because they are located in the Middle East, Asia, South America, or any region that may control what is allowed to be presented in a physical space.”
Finally, in her conclusions, Aubrey states the case for how museums are empowering women: “The museum institution has given women a platform for self-empowerment through their shared collective history. These women utilized their positions to further not only themselves, but also the identity of the artists, cultures, and objects they were displaying.”
“Arguably, one of the best museums for social empowerment is The Girl Museum. […] Not only are they representing a group that has historically been non-existent in history and art, but they are making the group–that group being girls–visible for the first time.”
Thank, you, Aubrey, for your incredible work on feminism and social impact in museums. You can read the entire thesis online here.