How did the idea of the Women's Museum in Moscow come about? Five years after moving from Russia to Norway, in 2015, I visited the Women's Museum (Aarhus, Denmark) — including to take my book “The city talks – activism in Bergen” there. There were a lot of interesting books about Danish feminism in the museum's store, and I bought some of them. For example, the discounted and, obviously, no longer in demand catalog of the congress of Women's Museums in 2009. On the cover were photos of the founders of women's museums from different countries, in articles they talked about their work.
It was so impressive (the photo and the book), that I put it in a prominent place and started to think about how to do something like this in Russia. The name "Women's Museum in Moscow" appeared in 2017, but some of its projects began in 2012 and even earlier. I studied the experience of feminists from different countries — Austria (Stichwort, Museum of Contraception and Abortion), Germany (Frauenmuseum Bonn, Museum Frauenkultur Regional-International Fürth), Denmark (KVINFO, Kvindemuseet i Danmark), Spain (La Bonne, Ca la Dona), Norway (8. Mars Bergen, Kvinnehistorisk natt), Ukraine (Gender Museum Kharkiv), visiting women's archives, museums, libraries, radical centers, women's bookstores and talking to their founders. I also studied the International Association of Women's Museums.
Traveling to the Netherlands, France, and the United States, I have observed what is happening in the field of women's rights. I wrote articles in Russian to pass on the experience I gained to Russian feminists. While in exile, I did educational projects in Russia together with volunteers from different cities of Russia and the world. So the Women's Museum in Moscow turned out. I discovered that there is a women's history movement, that this is a reality, that there are other women with similar interests to mine who understand the importance of preserving women's history. I learned that many people started out like us, keeping their collection in boxes, in the homes of friends. Many museum projects are still in a bad situation, and almost no one has decent funding. We don't yet have a building like Barcelona's Ca la Dona and Vienna's Stichwort, where there are vaults for every kind of item and even cabinets for banners. We hope to find a place in Russia one day and implement these principles. We want to demonstrate the priority of protecting women's rights, pacifism, and international solidarity.
The number of volunteers of the women's museum is sometimes 5 people, sometimes 20, 100 people at a time. Now, at the end of 2020, the Moscow Women's Museum has several projects, each of them is prepared by a micro-group of women, all of them are located in different cities. So, preparations are underway for Women's History Month and Women's History Night (May 8). A collection of the poetic women's zoom festival is being prepared for publication, as well as the sixth book in the series "Women's History for Children" about human rights activist and journalist Anna Politkovskaya. We try to regularly make projects about Gypsy women, with the help of the scientist and poet Ilona Makhotina. In particular, she recently helped to publish for the first time in Russia a collection of translations of the Gypsy poet Papusha and held a Month of History of Roma Women.
In 2019, inspired by the Spanish project Feminicidio.net, we started keeping statistics on femicide in Russia, and a year later we sent a report to the UN. We found incredibly high levels of femicide, especially in the regions. In addition to collecting statistics, we conduct an educational campaign and carefully study foreign anti-femicide experience, publish articles and translations about the achievements of feminists in other countries. Our volunteers in the project femicid.net work periodically, but due to the fact that we do not have a budget at all, and also due to the fact that the topic is very frustrating, it is rarely more than 1-2 people at a time. And they don't stay long. We are very happy that we were able to inspire the feminists of Kyrgyzstan — they counted femicide in their country and recently published the results.
The collection is kept partly in Moscow, partly in Spain, mainly feminist books in different languages, both published in printing houses and self-published. There are also many interesting items. For example, we have cardboard figures made for the 10th anniversary of the Women's Historical Night in Norway and participated in the "feminization" campaign of the fountain in Bergen Square in 2015. There is also a Catalan doll that gives birth to children and breast-feeds them (you can play vaginal birth, show what the placenta is), as well as a "trembling vulva" sewn from fabrics (Catalans use them in sex education classes for young children). Centimeter tape of women's history of Ukraine, which is made by Gender Museum Kharkiv. Our collection of alternative calendars deserves special interest. It started with a Chilean lesbian feminist calendar bought in Barcelona. Inspired by this idea, we made a Russian-language calendar in 2018-2019, which showed different, mostly Russian women's groups. The electronic collection includes a huge number of photos and articles about feminist practices around the world, a large collection of e-books. On the website you can also find international news and information about protest actions in which our activists take part.
What are the results of our work? In 2012, Russian feminists were very surprised by the phrase "women's history", now there is an idea that it has always been part of reality. The same story happened with Women's History Month (from 2017) and the word "femicide" (from 2019). Now they are integrated into the mainstream terms, they can be found in discussions and articles. We were very surprised when our series of books Women's History for children received recognition. Our book about Kersnovskaya was highly appreciated by independent bookshops, but we gave up the prize of Non-fiction book fair in protest against censorship in Russia. The second book about Gorbanevskaya was included in the catalogue of the Munich Internationale Jugendbibliothek, which was presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair and was supposed to be at the Bologna Fair this year, but the quarantine happened.
Personal success, the success of development-this is that I finally formed this puzzle in my head, that I understood how global activism works, how different human rights initiatives are related to each other, and in terms of Russian women's history — where everything comes from. And she wrote a series of texts about connections and prerequisites – about the Russian women's delegation and the Women's House at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, about the Judith Chicago Women's House in the early 70s, about modern women's movements in different countries.
If you are interested in the Russian project, would like to participate in any capacity, including to give us the exhibits — write firstname.lastname@example.org