London's New Women's Museum Opens This March

London's New Women's Museum Opens This March

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New artworks will be part of the first exhibition. Image: Meera Shakti Osborne

A new museum highlighting the achievements of women opens in east London this March.

Women's Museum in Barking launches on International Women's Day (8 March), with its inaugural exhibition, An Idea of a Life, curated by Nephertiti Oboshie Schandorf. The show focuses on the everyday histories of the women-led communities run by the abbess and nuns who lived in nearby Barking Abbey. New artworks by Meera Shakti Osborne, Lesley Asare and Sarina Mantle feature, alongside depictions of archaeological objects excavated from the surrounding area.

A programme of events and activities, to be announced at time of writing, will accompany the exhibition. Beyond that, the museum is intended as an inclusive place, offering a platform for ideas and issues relating to women, girls, transgender and non-binary communities.

The museum is part of the wider New Town Culture initiative, a cultural programme from Barking and Dagenham Council, using art and culture to change local lives.

Nephertiti Oboshie Schandorf curates the Women's Museum's first exhibition. Photo: Emma Hook

London's history of women's museums is somewhat muddled. Back in 2015, a museum originally intended to celebrate East End women — and be Britain's first women's museum — was widely criticised when it opened, as it focused on serial killer Jack the Ripper. In response, the crowdfunded East End Women: The Real Story popped up nearby, though it wasn't around for long. Around the same time, the East End Women's Museum was established as a pop-up venue, taking exhibitions and events out and about. There were plans for this to open a permanent home in Barking, but in February 2023 it was confirmed that these plans had been shelved, and that organisation no longer has plans for a permanent home.

Then, in April 2023, it was announced that there would be a museum in Barking after all — not the previously planned East End Women's Museum, but a venue operated by Barking & Dagenham Council. This incarnation, known simply as Women's Museum, is the one that's opening in March 2024.

We got there in the end.

Women's Museum, 4-5 Barking Wharf Square, IG11 7DQ. Open from 8 March 2024, entry is free. An Idea of Life exhibition runs until December 2024. The nearest station is Barking — aptly, served by the stretch of Overground which is being rebranded as the Suffragette line.

Last Updated 29 February 2024

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