Accessibility=Approachability

Admittedly, I was unsure of where to start my search for a museum/exhibit/website/research institution that addressed the issue of second wave feminism. I was confident that I would find something, but given my unfamiliarity with the topic I was not sure where to begin. Like so many of my generation when confronted with a question, I started with Google. The search phrase “feminism exhibits” gets a large number of results, but it was the very first one that grabbed my attention.

The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art opened in 2007 at the Brooklyn Museum with exhibitions and art education facilities dedicated to feminist art. Also known as The Center, their mission is “to raise awareness of feminism’s cultural contributions, to educate new generations about the meaning of feminist art, to maintain a dynamic and welcoming learning facility, and to present feminism in an approachable and relevant way.”[1] The Center is 8,300 square feet with a regular exhibitions area, a computer study area, and space for public programs. Elizabeth A. Sackler, the Center’s benefactor, describes it this way.

The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is a home where the feminist principles of equality and justice reside. The Center is a forum for dialogue and discourse about feminism and feminist art. The Women’s Liberation Movement in America in the 1970s was but a beginning. We now live in a world hard-wired electronically, with each corner only nano-seconds apart from the others. But oppression, inequity, and prejudice still engulf most women in the world although, in total, women make up half the earth’s population. We will not have reached a post-feminist era until all women—women of color, disenfranchised women living in poverty and subjected to injustices, women abused or discarded—are saved from bigotry, are rescued from the horrors of rape and the sex-slave market, and at last have equal opportunities. [2]

The Center’s long-term installation and centerpiece is The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago. This installation is discussed at great length in Roots Too and is viewed as an extremely important piece of art. The Dinner Party is a large triangular table with 39 place settings, each setting uniquely designed to honor a particular historical female figure. The website for The Center features a virtual tour of The Dinner Party, as well as separate website dedicated completely to the work.

Along with The Dinner Party, there are also two other temporary exhibitions. Kiki Smith: Sojourn and Healing Wounds of War: The Brooklyn Sanitary Far of 1864. Previous temporary exhibitions have included art in a wide variety of mediums, from painting, to sculpture, to flim. There is a list of upcoming, past, and touring exhibitions on the Center’s website.

The Center’s website is filled with educational material and serves as a good introduction to feminism and feminist art. I especially liked the Feminist Timeline, which allows people to track major events in the Civil Rights Movement, Feminist, and other movements from the 1960s to the 2000s. The timeline provides layers of information and the reader can choose to browse or read at great depth. Other educational tools include podcasts, blogs, links, and videos.

The Feminist Art Base, which is found on The Center’s website, is an online feminist art database that includes not only information on the art but also the artists. The artists and museum staff regularly update the database and even just browsing the thumbnail pictures of artist’s work, you can begin to appreciate the diversity of feminist art.

The Center is clearly trying to achieve their mission of making feminist art approachable and they are doing it getting it out of the museum. By putting so many resources online they are making the art more accessible and allowing people to become familiar with themes or issues they may not have encountered before.

[1] “About the Center,” Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/about/index.php

[2] “About the Benefactor Statement,” Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/about/benefactor_statement.php

Categories: mc

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