Let’s talk about sex…and gender and more!

Hey, hey, fellow AU students!

It’s been a while since a full on post, but it’s thesis season and it’s hard enough to remember to shower every once in a while…

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about something I heard about a few weeks ago that really caught my interest. For those of you who don’t know, there is a Women’s Museum (Kvindemuseet) right smack dab next to the Domkirke, which I’m sure you’re all familiar with in downtown Aarhus. I’ll tell you more about the museum later, but for now, let’s focus on something that could really potentially happen if we give the museum some support.

GENDER AND QUEER STUDIES. Yup, that’s right! The Women’s Museum would love to start a lecture series on gender and queer studies, something that doesn’t even exist as a full study program at Aarhus University. The best part is that they want to design the lectures for international students, as well as Danish students at AU. As we all know, money is tight these days, especially for public institutions, so in order to make these lecture series happen, the museum has to prove a demand for it. That’s where YOU come in!

All you have to do is click HERE to take their survey and make sure to indicate that you are interested in the lecture series (and go ahead and click anything else you’d like while you’re at it). It just takes 1 minute!

But maybe you’re thinking, “Hmm, why the hell should I take a survey for a museum I ain’t ever heard of?” Well, no more excuses, because you’re about to get told.

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It was a chilly, sunny morning in Aarhus when two fresh-faced students, one Danish and one not Danish, met up at the Women’s Museum armed with a camera and four critical eyes. The non Dane (that’s me, hint, hint!) got there last and approached the front desk, behind which stood a young woman who appeared to be quite young . “Uh, oh” I thought to myself, “What are the odds that she’ll know English?” I wasn’t wrong to wonder, because when I opened my mouth to say hello and ask if this is where I pay, her mouth snapped shut. I gave her props for keeping the smile on her face, but as she looked around helplessly, it made me feel guilty for bombarding her with the English language. Her colleague couldn’t help her much though, because she was on the phone. I tried waving my free ticket to help things along and was given a silent, but friendly nod to go in. Phew, one awkward encounter narrowly escaped.

Furniture on the ceiling. Because they can.

I carried on to greet my Danish friend and after untangling ourselves from our coats and scarves, we went up the stairs into the first exhibition. We had better luck inside in the History of Childhood exhibition, where another staff member greeted us and was able to quickly switch to English. She was nice enough to explain how the exhibition worked and answered my questions. In this part of the museum, you can pick up a card (available in Danish, English and German) with a picture of a child and some information. You can then explore the rooms like a scavenger hunt for more facts about the child’s life and family. It was cool to see all the old toys and clothes from different time periods. The highlight of this exhibition was the random upside down room. I’m still not sure why it was upside down, but who am I to question?

Scholarly robes are way sexier than a string bikini, right?

The next exhibition we stopped at was up some more stairs (beautiful carved wood and stained glass windows to see, by the way). This was the permanent exhibition and it had artifacts from the Iron age to our modern day. There were a lot of things to appreciate about this exhibition, but my favorite was the room of lingerie. Some of them looked like death traps and I really wondered how the hell people ever got in them and lived to tell the tale…

"I do believe I've popped a cap in your buttocks, sir"

The last exhibition, a temporary one called “Daughters of Diana,” was the reason I wanted to visit the museum in the first place. It featured female hunters throughout Danish history, mostly women of royalty, which makes sense since hunting was—and still is—the sport of the wealthy. That’s probably why a lot of the gear (especially the earlier hunting gear for women) looked pretty frilly and downright unpractical – but that doesn’t make it any less badass! Of course, nowadays, women aren’t required to wear dresses while hunting.  Unfortunately, I went on the day of the exhibition’s start and they hadn’t put up English translations yet, so I can’t say that I learned much from the Danish display plaques and the Danish audio. Too bad, because they had some audio/video recordings of Danish women telling stories about that one time they hunted in Africa, you know, no big deal.

A red hunting dress is kind of practical...it hides the blood stains!

All in all, aside from the lack of consistent English texts/audio on display and the confusion at the front desk, it was a good way to spend a Monday morning. The staff members who do speak English are friendly and easy to chat with. It’s kind of nice to have someone ask you where you’re from and be genuinely interested in the answer!

I’m looking forward to see what their next temporary exhibitions will bring and I love that it’s always something different from the last one! They’ve had exhibitons on world poetry, female immigrants trying to integrate into Danish society, and even Mexican female soldiers during the Mexican Revolution, so I think we can expect the museum to cover subjects that fit a lot of diverse interests.

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