May 18th is International Museum Day.
I was 20 years old, a sophomore in college, and it was day one of my History of American Women class. Our professor, a woman I credit with introducing me to feminism (and inspiring me to earn a subsequent gender studies degree!) asked us to write down all of the historically important women we could think of on a piece of paper.
Perhaps surprisingly — perhaps not — the class really struggled to write down names — especially the names of non-white women. There was Martha Washington, and Susan B. Anthony, and… um, who else?
I’ll never forget the moment the teacher called on a boy (who looked rather out of his element) so he could read off his list, on which there were only two names: Oprah and Pocahontas.
The sad reality is that our history books are packed with the exploits and accomplishment of men, leaving us undereducated about the women who shaped our society.
If you want to get out and learn about the badass women of the world, you can start by taking a trip to these museums:
1National Women’s History Museum
Location: ONLINE EVERYWHERE! (And, hopefully soon, in person in Washington, D.C.)
2Museum of Women’s Resistance
Location: 279 Empire Blvd. Brooklyn, New York 11225
MoWRe, based in New York City, dedicates itself to examining “the diversity, dynamism, and global influence of women of African descent and cultures over time in the realms of family, work, community, nations and the natural environment.”
3International Women’s Air and Space Museum
Location: Burke Lakefront Airport, Rm 165 1501 N. Marginal Rd. Cleveland, Ohio 44114
If your knowledge of women’s contributions to flight and space travel stop with Amelia Earhart, a visit to IWASM museum should be in the cards for you.
4Colored Girls Museum
Location: 4613 Newhall Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144
Set inside a historical home, the memoir-based Colored Girls Museum examines the experience of growing up black and female in America. According to their website, the museum dedicates itself to “exclusively collecting, preserving, honoring, and decoding artifacts pertaining to the experience and herstory of colored girls.”
5National Museum of Women in the Arts
Location: 1250 New York Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20005
How many art museums are dedicated EXCLUSIVELY to showcasing art made by women across all countries and time periods? One, and it’s the National Museum for Women in the Arts.