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How American museums are celebrating Women's History Month

A number of female-focussed programmes have been planned around the country for March—and the whole year round

How American museums are celebrating Women's History Month
The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles is putting on the events series Her Dream Deferred: on the Status of Black Women, as part of its Bureau of Feminism programme
Don your pink pussy hat and celebrate Women's History Month at one of these museums around the country—or tune in to the celebrations online.

You can help re-write women into history on 11 March, when more than 80 institutions across the US—including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (ICA Boston) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (MOCAD)—and hundreds more worldwide host the fourth annual Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, a collaborative project that aims to improve the online encyclopedia’s coverage of women in the arts. The organisers say that since the event launched three years ago, over 4,600 Wikipedia entries have been created or edited by volunteers. “When you have a government actively pushing ‘alternative facts’, improving the reliability and completeness of Wikipedia is an important act of everyday resistance,” the organisers of Art+Feminism said in a press release.

From 28-30 March, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles presents Her Dream Deferred: on the Status of Black Women, which celebrates the contributions of African American women at the forefront of progressive social movements and examines the status of black women and girls in the United States today. The events are part of the institution’s on-going women’s studies programme, the Bureau of Feminism, and are all live-streamed. The series includes Say Her Name: an Evening of Arts and Action (28 March), a powerful performance to remember black women and girls killed by police violence, and The Not So Silver Screen: Black Women in Media, which tackles issues of representation of black women both on screen and off.

At the California African American Museum, also in Los Angeles, the solo exhibition Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle: The Evanesced (until 2 June) shows what the artist calls “un-portraits”, of both real and imagine black women and girls who have disappeared in the US and the African diaspora past and present through colonialism, slavery, homicide and human trafficking.

On International Women’s Day (8 March), the New-York Historical Society delivers on its promise to mount exhibitions on women’s history year-round with the inauguration of its new Center for Women’s History in a renovated gallery space. The centre’s exhibition programme kicks off with the show Saving Washington (until 30 July), which focuses on the “critical but often behind-the-scenes” contributions of First Lady Dolly Madison and her female contemporaries to the nation’s capital, says Louise Mirrer, the museum’s president and chief executive, in a statement. On 9 March, the television news anchor Lesley Stahl will moderate a panel on the ways women have influenced the history of American politics, both inside and outside the White House.

Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, Carmel Highlands, California (1981) (Photo: © 2016 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust)
Women’s history is also year-round priority at the Brookyn Museum in New York, which is home to the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the centre, the museum launched a A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum, a programme of ten exhibitions last September, which continues through early next year. Current shows include Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern (until 23 July) which takes fresh look at the artist and her identity by displaying her clothing with her art for the first time, and a long-term exhibition of objects drawn from the museum’s Ancient Egyptian collection, A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt, which demonstrates how modern feminist theory has helped Egyptologists understand the ancient world.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, DC—the only major institution in the world to focus solely on art created by women—has organised events both online and at the museum for Women’s History Month, including the second iteration of its month-long #5WomenArtists social media campaign, which challenges the public to name five women artists. (Last year, nearly 400 museums, galleries and libraries and over 11,000 individuals from 22 countries participated in the project.) The museum is upping the ante this year with its virtual #5WomenArtists Scavenger Hunt, where players share photos and answer a series of questions about five works from the NMWA’s collection on social media. On 29 March, the museum will host a talk between the designer Emily Pilloton and the artist Ann Hamilton about how hands-on learning can inspire the next generation of female innovators, part of its on-going Fresh Talks programme.

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