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  • Jingshu Helen Yao

Women's History Month: Women's Museum Far from Home

By: Jingshu Helen Yao


During March 2018, in honor of women’s history month, Musings editor Kristen Mclaughlin wrote an article showcasing museums around the world that celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). Mclaughlin’s article focused on museums in the UK, Italy, and Australia, because it was difficult to find any information on celebrating IWD in museums of nonwestern countries. Though more than 80 countries officially recognize IWD, their celebration may not be immediately available to us due to the language and information barrier. Three years later, in 2021, I would like to take a look outside the western lenses and introduce three more museums that focus on women’s history.

Vietnam Women’s Museum, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam

Exhibition at The Vietnam Women’s Museum. Vietnam Travel.

The Vietnam Women’s Museum was founded in 1987 by the Vietnam Women’s Union. Since then the museum has dedicated itself to public education on the history and cultural heritage of Vietnamese women. The museum is also a centre for promoting, encouraging, and inspiring the work of culture preservation, knowledge exchange, as well as gender equality. The exhibitions in the museum include “Women in Family,” “Women in History,” and “Women’s Fashion.” Its temporary exhibitions shed light on women in different fields and aspects of society, for example, female entrepreneurs were featured in “Start-up Journey” and efforts of environmental activists are honored in a photography display titled “I Live Green.” Other exhibitions also focused on domestic violence (“Smiling Tears”), migrant women (“Shining Night”), single mothers (“Single Mothers’ Voices”), and human trafficking (“Peaceful Place”). The various topics are not only a learning opportunity to understand women’s history in Vietnam, but also point out the urgent issues that need to be addressed for women’s equality.

Exhibition at The Vietnam Women’s Museum. Vietnam Travel.

Women's Museum Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

Women's Museum Istanbul is a relatively new museum, established in 2011. Though the museum doesn’t have as many exhibitions as traditional museums, the online archive is a great resource for historical learning and research. The permanent online exhibition is an archive of all the “first” women in Istanbul’s history who contribute to the culture and art of the city. The archive traces back to as early as the 11th century and is organized alphabetically, chronologically, and thematically. The museum is also making an effort to improve education on the “HERstory” of Istanbul in schools by organizing teachers’ programs. It also offers funds and support for research in women’s history.

Online Exhibition at Women’s Museum Istanbul. Women's Museum Istanbul.

The Women’s Museum at Bait Al Banat, Dubai - United Arab Emirates

The Women’s Museum at Bait Al Banat is located in a historical building called “The Girls’ House.” The museum’s vision is to document women’s life in different historical and social contexts across the UAE, with a focus on women’s activism in arts, academia, business, culture, and politics. The current exhibition in Bait Al Banat's gallery is on Muneera al Mazrou, a distinguished marksman (or in this case marksperson) and photographer. The exhibition features her work as one of the first female photographers from Sharjah. “HERstory” is an exhibition on women’s design work and the conversation and connections between artists through their art. Bait Al Banat is also home to the Women’s Studies Centre which facilitates and supports further research on women’s history and empowerment.

Exhibition in Bait Al Banat Gallery. The Women’s Museum at Bait Al Banat.


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