Many women’s museums have been founded as private initiatives independently and without knowing of each other. All museums were founded out of necessity, because women’s history and women’s culture was not (sufficiently) represented in the conventional museums. The first women’s museums were “born” in the USA in the 1950s. In the 1980s, the first European museum was built in Bonn and more followed … The museum in Meran was about the 20th women’s museum in the world and the fifth one in Europe.
Since the late 1990s, our Women’s Museum has been in contact with other women’s museums: exhibitions by Hittisau (A) and Burgfarrnbach near Nuremberg (D), partnering with the Senegalese Museum in 2000, and having loose contacts with the Naples Women’s Museum Initiative ( I) and the Women’s Museum Bonn (D).
In 2008 Sissi Prader and Astrid Schönweger organized the 1st International Women’s Museum Conference on the occasion of the Museum’s 20th anniversary, where representatives of 25 women’s museums from 5 continents met for the first time in Merano.
On the third day of the conference, they founded the loose network of women’s museums worldwide here in Merano. Since then, they have been exchanging ideas, planning joint projects, supporting each other, and advising initiatives to build a women’s museum.
In 2012, the International Association of Women’s Museums (IAWM) was founded in Alice Springs in Australia. The attending participants adopted a statute and a substantive resolution. The Women’s Museum Meran was represented by Sissi Prader and is still on the board today. Astrid Schönweger, on the other hand, was appointed coordinator.
In 2013 it was decided to transfer the seat of IAWM to the Women’s Museum of Merano for administrative reasons. An international board, which is elected every 4 years, manages the association.
Since then conferences around the world have been held on a regular basis, promoting collaboration among members. If you want to keep up to date, feel free to subscribe to the newsletter (which is usually published twice a year in English, Spanish and French).