Consequently, museums have become forums for different voices and viewpoints to be heard.2
With this, a new space for determining what constitutes museum artifacts and displays has emerged in the late 20th century on to the 21st century where historical research, the communities which they are located and museum standards interact to give way to dynamic representations of objects, people and ideas.
Nowhere has the impact of these developments originated and in turn continue to enrich and widen in scope than in the field of women's history. In taking advantage of the opportunities presented by museums to carry women's history (the Museum of Victoria for example is visited by one million people), Lisa Dale wrote that we should all be involved in how history is presented.3 Interpreting and presenting women's history
however according to Dale should go beyond being an intellectual sport. Museum historians need to work hand in hand with academic historians and scholars to devise methods so as to present to the public complex historical realities. A case of such cooperation is seen in the current oral history project of the Museum and La Trobe Library where students of Women Studies will conduct interviews in South Melbourne covering the period from the 1920s to 1970.4
The application of feminist theory has largely driven the changes the way historical realities are portrayed in museums, not...
Seeing history through the lens of feminism and feminist theory
Treating museums as text, curator as author and visitors as readers has enabled historian Gaby Porter to critique the set-up of museums where the representation of objects in display take precedence over unraveling of historical truth. She takes off from poststructuralist theory and on to a feminist approach where the relations of women and women are analyzed in the context of museums. 5 In traditional museums, relative to men's representation which are active, highly developed, articulated - women's historical
History-Women's History Museums
contributions are passive, shallow, muted and undeveloped.6 When viewed from a feminist perspective, museums ought to go beyond the seeming objectivity of displays to subjective spaces of interaction between visitors and the museum space and all its underlying processes of selection and representation. The historical truth becomes less solid as meanings are never permanent and are negotiable. The scientific and the artistic disciplines tend to blend, and themes depart from strictly chronological orientation7.
For example in the exhibition called Putting on the Style at the Geffrye Museum in London, the display of homes in the 1950s resonated more of the personal lives of those who lived there rather than of the people's respective social status.8 On the other hand, the Story of Hull and Its People, the permanent exhibition at Hull Museum traces history over the last two hundred years yet shows more notably the cyclical passage from birth to death of people who were relatively unknown. 9
An even more forward