The Cabinet has approved plans to examine the possible establishment of a new national women’s museum to highlight the achievements of women from all walks of life, both contemporary and historical.
Minister for Culture Catherine Martin is set to announce on Wednesday the establishment of a new expert committee to advise on the representation of women and women’s stories within Ireland’s national cultural institutions.
The group will be asked to help existing cultural institutions to find any gaps in their collections or programmes around the representation of women, with the group also tasked with proposing actions to address any such gaps.
It is understood the new committee will ensure that the voices of historically marginalised women are also examined in this discussion. A major plank of the committee’s work will be examining the possibility of creating a stand-alone presentation of women’s stories, which could take the form of a new national women’s museum.
Ms Martin will outline the potential membership of the new expert committee on Wednesday. It will likely include members from the museum, archive and gallery sector, as well as representatives from the National Women’s Council of Ireland and experts in gender and equality studies.
It is understood that any new museum would be all-Ireland in nature and would celebrate the accomplishments of women from all walks of life, from fashion, art, business, retail, writing, politics, sports and beyond. It would also have a strong community focus.
Work on such a project has been ongoing for a number of years behind the scenes. Representatives from relevant government departments will also feature on the new committee. Government figures believe that the experience with the Decade of Commemorations has shown the appetite for highlighting the stories of women, with the Mná 100 project also highlighting the variety of contributions of women in the revolutionary period, including women who might otherwise have been forgotten.
Examples of women who would be celebrated include contemporary writers, designers, artists, sportswomen and also historically significant women, both famous and overlooked. A source said a national museum could “commemorate every aspect of women’s contribution to the State” and would be all-Ireland in nature encompassing women who have been “left out of the narrative”.