Museum London is celebrating International Women’s day with two exhibits that are dedicated to women. Embodiment displays female identified artists who challenge traditional representations of the female form. Women’s Lives in Canada uses artifacts to allow visitors the chance to take a journey through women’s history.
XFM News talked to Amber LloydLangston who is the curator for the Women’s Lives in Canada exhibition. She says that the inspiration for this exhibit came from a London mother and daughter, Effie Van Camp Wyatt and Mary Louise Wyatt. Their “typical and atypical” lives allow visitors the opportunity to take a walk through history and see the strides we have taken overtime.
Lloydlangston divided the exhibit into 3 different sections – family, work and education. She uses the family section to display wedding certificates. These wedding certificates are used to demonstrate women’s property and divorce laws. She reminds us that at one point in history, women were not allowed to own their own property and were not allowed to be seen as her own individual. If a woman was to divorce, for example, she would have to have lived through abuse, adultery, beastiality and desertion in order to be given the right to leave the marriage. Those rules did however change with legislation in the 1800s.
LLoyldlangston boldly reminds us of the lack of understanding of sexuality with the use of the Searchlights on Health. A book that was written in 1875 that had it’s unique ways of teaching women (and men) about sex, reproduction and pregnancy prevention.
She also uses a birth control handbook from 1969 that demonstrates a time in history where “disemminating information about birth control was illegal, it wasn’t legalized to have information about birth control until 1969.” She also points out how abortion wasn’t legalized in 1988, a controversial milestone in women’s history.
She also uses clothes, not to make fashion statements, but to send bold messages about the roles and expectations placed on women throughout history. She uses wedding gowns, wedding night gowns, a maid’s uniform and an office worker’s uniform. The latter two uniforms highlight the ” dangers of abuse experienced by women who worked in that line of work” and “the feminization of office work that began in the early 20th century” respectively.
XFM News asked Llloydlangston what this exhibit means for women in a time of movements like #metoo and #timesup. She says “it shows that we’ve worked hard to get where we’re going… we should feel strengthened and say look where we’ve come from, there may still be work to be done. But, we are just as strong as our foremothers and we have a responsibility to those who come after us to keep on going.”
This exhibit runs until May 6th.