It is undeniable
that throughout history outstanding women have gone unrecognized.
Our history books do not chronicle their lives and actions as
often or completely as their male counterparts. It is this injustice
that the International Museum of Women (IMOW) hopes to change.
Its mission is to celebrate the lives of women around the world.
Projected to open in 2008 at Pier 26 in San Francisco, this museum
would put any feminist on cloud nine. Last Wednesday, Nov. 19,
Lovisa Brown, the programs and volunteer manager for the IMOW,
and photographer and author Paola Gianturco, spoke in room 440
of Lone Mountain about an upcoming exhibit, and what students
can to do to help turn it from dream into reality.
spoke of her journey across the globe to create the upcoming exhibit
put on by the IMOW in San Francisco next fall. The subject of
this exhibit is international festivals that honor women, as featured
in Gianturco's book, which will be released in October of 2003,
entitled Celebrating Women: Festivals Around the World. Paola
provided a slide show of, as she put it, “17 festivals in
15 countries done at lightning speed.”
colorful pictures of dancing, eating, laughing women from all
walks of life were just a few that Gianturco took on her international
journey that will likely be included in the upcoming display.
These photographs depict the spirit of each festival and its celebration
are celebrated as warriors and as mothers; they are celebrated
as virgins and as flirts; they are celebrated as healers and providers.
They are celebrated because they are brave, political and powerful.
The spectrum is inspiring. It can help us understand why we are
who we are and what we can become,” Paola said.
The IMOW is
the perfect example of such potential. This “museum without
walls,” as Brown called it because it hasn’t yet materialized,
demonstrates what women with determination can accomplish. This
project to establish a major women’s museum in San Francisco
began in 1997, and though the process is still at the developmental
stage, big steps have been taken. Already the IMOW has put together
three traveling art exhibits: the most recent was “California
Woman Suffrage” shown at the San Francisco War Memorial
Opera House this past Sept. Additionally, the museum has a full-time
staff, a board and many volunteers extremely committed to making
the IMOW a “real” museum. Perhaps their biggest achievement
to date was the signing of an Exclusive Right to Negotiate agreement
with the Port Commission last June for the 150,000 square foot
building on Pier 26, just left of the Bay Bridge.
IMOW will not open at this location until 2008, it is still very
active, as exemplified in its organizing of “Celebrating
Women, Festivals Around the World.” Celebrating Women is
the first exhibit the IMOW has curated. It is still to be determined
where this exhibit will take place. However, Brown said that it
will be somewhere within San Francisco that is “accessible,
with enough space for the exhibit.”
volunteers have the opportunity to help plan the layout of the
display. When asked by USF student Chelsea Pegram what photographs
would be on display, Gianturco said with a smile, “That
could be decided by a committee you sit on.” Brown stressed
the need for help in the process of putting together this show.
“Now is the time to volunteer,” Brown said, adding
that students will get to be “in on the beginning”
of this monumental project.
“This kind of material has never been put together before.
The International Museum of Women is breaking ground. (The display)
will be the first expression of the Museum’s vision, a preview,
a showcase, a debut four years before their Pier 26 location is
ready to open in San Francisco,” Gianturco said.
are needed for the organizing of Celebrating Women under three
different categories: exhibit and its development, programs in
education outreach and marketing and fundraising for the exhibit.
No prior skill is necessary, and anyone is welcome to help.
students and other volunteers will have an opportunity to make
a huge impact in shaping and implementing the exhibition because,
as a ‘museum with walls,’ IMOW has a very small staff
that couldn’t possibly handle all the work that will be
required for such an ambitious show,” Gianturco said. “Committees
will work under the supervision of Museum Board members, so students
will have an unusual opportunity to learn, as well as contribute.
Plus, celebrations and working on this exhibit will be fun.”
and Brown both stressed the fact that they want to make sure it
is not only a visual experience, but one that captivates all the
senses. “You might learn to bake festival buns, to create
a romantic mask, to dance the samba. There will be music, dancing
and feasting, plus all sorts of surprises,” Gianturco said.
“With the involvement of the many ethnic communities in
the Bay Area, the Celebrating Women exhibit will be truly interactive.”
The most significant characteristic of the exhibit is the potential
it has to act as a catalyst to change the outlook of its visitors
regarding women and the things they can accomplish.
the distance between countries and people shrinks, I hope Celebrating
Women will connect us and inspire us to use our similarities –
and differences – to tackle the problems that beleaguer
women and their families in every country,” Gianturco said
at the end of the presentation.
To finish off the presentation, Gianturco passed around a bag
of shredded, sparkling confetti, of which each member of the group
was encouraged to take a fistful. “I celebrate women starting
with those in this room.” Here’s to you, and to the
women of North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, celebrating
women, celebrating women everywhere!” Paola said, and with
that, the wave of her hand the confetti flew.
If you are
interested in volunteering with the IMOW in the organizing of
this exhibit, contact the Programs/Volunteer Manager, Lovisa Brown
at (415) 543-4669 ext 15, or Lovisa@imow.org.