Women in Technology and Science
  • Home
  • News
  • Exhibition celebrating 100 years of women's suffrage

Exhibition celebrating 100 years of women's suffrage

  • 18 May 2018

The National Museum of Ireland celebrated International Museum Day with a panel discussion about women's suffrage in the Leinster House Seanad Chamber on Friday night, 18th May 2018.

On the panel were Senator Ivana Bacik, Judith McCarthy (the Curator of Donegal County Museum and member of the Board of the National Museum of Ireland) and Mary McAuliffe (Assistant Professor/Lecturer in Gender Studies at University College Dublin, specialising in Irish women's/gender history).

The panellists discussed the passing of the Representation of the People Act 1918 which enfranchised women aged thirty or over who were “householders, the wives of householders, were possessed of a 5 pound occupation qualification or were graduates.”

The event also coincided with International Museum Day, a day which celebrates museums as an important means of cultural exchange and enrichment and the development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.

Topics explored in the conversation included:

  • The significance of the centenary of women’s suffrage in 2018
  • The evolving role of museums in contemporary society
  • The concept of diversity in museums and the inclusion of under-represented groups
  • How museums reflect history, the role of curators in doing so, and how factors such as unconscious bias influence their work
  • The traditional lack of representation of women’s histories in museum collections and exhibitions
  • The continuing Decade of Commemorations and how to address contentious chapters in our nation’s history

Senator Ivana Bacik said: “I am delighted to have been involved in this great collaborative event to mark the important centenary of women’s suffrage on International Museum Day, and to have been able to explore themes around the contemporary relevance of celebrating anniversaries such as this with a distinguished panel of experts.”

Catherine Heaney, Chair of the Board of the National Museum said: “This event was a historic occasion where members of the public had the opportunity to sit in the Upper House of our national parliament to engage in discussion and reflect on our suffrage history. It’s important that collaborations – such as this – with cultural institutions and the Oireachtas continue to happen. Taking time to reflect on history helps to inform our future. Even when the temporary Seanad chamber at the NMI’s Ceramics Room is handed back to the Museum, we hope for a continued collaboration. The proximity of the National Museum to the Oireachtas makes this collaboration all the more convenient as well as purposeful.”

WITS Chair (2018) Julie Hogan attended the event.

Julie noted "the discussion on how museums engage with communities to bridge the "void of remembrance" was really interesting. It also struck me that museums also shape how we think about ourselves, and the lack of a high profile national science museum must influence why we don't think of ourselves as having a history of scientific endeavour here, despite Maude Delap and our other "scientific grandmothers" (and not forgetting the men, world-class scientists like George Boole and Robert Boyle)."

Photo © Shawn Pogatchnik. The above was also adapted from the Museum website and the full article is available here.