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The International Museum of Women, (I.M.O.W.), located in San Francisco, California is a social change museum that celebrates and values the lives of women around the world. The museum's programming is offered locally in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as globally. The museum began as the Women's Heritage Museum in 1985 and in 1997 became the more encompassing International Museum of Women.



I.M.O.W. was founded as the Women's Heritage Museum in 1985. As the Women's Heritage Museum, it produced exhibitions, public programs, book fairs, educational resources for Women's History Month and honored unknown local women. The need for a larger museum was realized in 1997 when a group of Bay Area teachers sought a place to take their students. One of these teachers, Elizabeth L. Colton, who had been on the board of the Women's Heritage Museum, spurred the drive to create a larger museum, in part through private funding.[1]

Since its rebirth under the new name in 1997, I.M.O.W. has organized more than seven major exhibitions, hosted a number of public fora, developed educational curriculum for schools and created a number of speaker series programs that draw artists, authors and political leaders including Alice Walker, Riane Eisler, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Malalai Joya, Beatriz Merino, and Nicholas Kristof, among others.


Imagining Ourselves, one of the museum's most prominent exhibits, involved providing women worldwide with a platform of expression and encouraged participation from women throughout the world.[2] The exhibition has attracted the support of artists and celebrities such as journalist Lisa Ling, comedian Margaret Cho, figure skater Oksana Baiul, Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, writer Immaculée Ilibagiza, actress Jennifer Siebel, writer Rebecca Walker, Journalist and author Mariane Pearl.

Imagining Ourselves began in 2001 when founder Paula Goldman posed the question What Defines Your Generation of Women? to women ages 20 to 40 around the world. She wrote a short call asking women to submit artwork and writings responding to the question and with the help of a few international organizations, she sent it out. Soon after, I.M.O.W. signed on to support the project and a 240-page anthology from the submissions was formed. The anthology, Imagining Ourselves: Global Voices from a New Generation of Women was published in March 2006 by New World Library. [3][4]

The exhibit was previewed to international delegates at the Beijing+10 Conference on Women in 2004, and has since toured the world. More than 60 distinguished leaders from around the globe signed on to be ambassadors for the project, as did major international organizations such as Amnesty International and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Paula Goldman and the International Museum of Women were awarded a Anita Borg Social Impact and Technology Leadership Award in 2007 for the global online exhibition Imagining Ourselves. The exhibition wrapped up December 31, 2007 but continues to be accessible online and includes more than 20,420 pages of original stories, essays, artwork and photographs from participants from over 200 countries worldwide.

I.M.O.W.'s Women, Power and Politics online exhibition debuted on International Women's Day, March 8, 2008, and kept building new themes and stories each month until December 31 of that year. It is now available as one of the most comprehensive resources of women's political participation available on the Web. It features more than 200 essays, interviews, artwork, photographs, cartoons, podcasts, blog entries, and multimedia content representing 75 countries. Each story--available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish--showcases remarkable women claiming and exercising their power to change the world. Popular stories include profiles on Cicciolina, Ingrid Betancourt, Fatima Bhutto, Wangari Maathai and many more women in politics from all walks of life. Multimedia content includes video clips with Madeleine Albright and Kim Campbell as well as podcasts with Malalai Joya, Mahnaz Afkhami, and Rasha Hifzi. Members of I.M.O.W.'s online community are encouraged to continue to comment on the exhibition stories and add their voices to the conversation threads in the community forum. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Masum Momaya.

On October 17, 2009, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I.M.O.W. launched its newest online exhibition, Economica: Women and the Global Economy,[5] which explores how women are making a difference to economies around the world. Also curated by Dr. Masum Momaya, it features essays covering a range of topics, from business leadership and philanthropy to microenterprise and grassroots solutions, by experts such as Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Women for Women International founder Zainab Salbi, President of the Global Summit of Women Irene Natividad, Professor Anita Hill, National Farm Workers Association Co-founder Dolores Huerta, and others. The essays, podcasts, and multimedia slide shows illustrate that while women are uniquely impacted by economic volatility, they are also equipped to offer new economic ideas and solutions. Visitors to Economica online are encouraged to comment and also submit their creative work.[6]


  1. ^ "Founding Members". International Museum of Women. Retrieved 2008-08-17.  
  2. ^ "Imagining Ourselves". Africultures. 2003-04.〈=_en. Retrieved 2008-08-17.  
  3. ^ Allende, Isabel; Paula Goldman (2006-01). Imagining Ourselves - Global Voices from a New Generation of Women. New World Library. pp. 280. ISBN 1577315243.  
  4. ^ Hamlin, Jesse (2006-03-14). "A Generation of Powerful Women". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-08-17.  
  5. ^ Economica Exhibition Press Release, PRWeb
  6. ^ Call for Submissions, International Museum of Women

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