Womens Museum Merano


From the Renaissance to the First World War, the corset torments, shapes and contorts the female body in fashionable and erotic ways. The corset not only tightens the body, but also the mind and restricts the lives of women who work at home and the stove. But not all women put up with this.
How is the liberation from the corset related to the first wave of the women's movement?


The smaller the feet, the more beautiful the woman. In China, for a long time, it was tradition to break the feet of young women and bind them. The widespread ideal of beauty was to have a small foot (no more than 10 cm) and the related restrictions on freedom of movement, were closely linked to the social conception of women: beautiful, small, ornamental, helpless, dependent.


The Golden Twenties is a short window of opportunity, within which women enjoy unprecedented freedom in urban areas. The "New Woman" is employed, independent, androgynous with a bob haircut and a flapper dress. How long is it going to last…?


For many working women - married or single, everyday life is a never ending to-do-list. According to feminist and sociologist Christina Mundlos, women put themselves under pressure because they want to indulge the humanly impossible ideal of super-woman. What must and what can we change?


Annoyed about her employees who damaged valuable dishes during rinsing, Josephine Cochrane (1839-1913) invented the first dishwasher in 1886. For this she won the first prize for the best mechanical construction at the 1893 Chicago World Exhibition.
However, the prize was awarded to Mr. Cochrane since women were not admitted to the Universal Exposition, so she registered herself under this name.


In 1971 Margit Fliri was the first woman judge in Trentino-Alto Adige. Until 1963 in Italy there was a legal prohibition for women to have access to this position.

Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi (*21 June 1947 in Hamadan) is an Iranian lawyer, first female Iranian judge and human rights activist. She was the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 and has been living in exile in Great Britain since the end of 2009.

Olympe de Gouges

“Women have the right to mount the scaffold, they must also have the right to mount the speaker's rostrum."
Olympe de Gouges, French human rights activist (1748-1793)


For centuries, the women’s body has gone through a wide range of ideals: literally from “thick” to “thin”. Today, beauty has become an obsession, and the dream of a perfect body is realized by cosmetic surgery. Ideals of beauty - curse or blessing?

Naomi Wolf

“There is no legitimate, historical or biological justification for the beauty myth; what it is doing to women today is a result of nothing more exalted than the need of today’s power structure, economy, and culture to mount a counteroffensive against women.”

Naomi Wolf (*1962) is an American liberal and progressive feminist writer and journalist


Why do we start our narration of the history of women in our permanent exhibition with the French Revolution? Because Olympe de Gouges (1791), in her Declaration of Women’s and Citizen’s Rights, had the courage to affirm that human rights are also women’s rights.
Who gives you the courage to change?


Since the 1980s, there has been talk of a third and fourth wave of women’s movement. Among the demands are gender equality, acceptance of Gender, Race and Class, rights of trans* (gender identity and sexuality), down with imperialism and patriarchy (Red Committees of Women).


In her book, published in 1949, Simone de Beauvoir writes the famous phrase: "A woman is not born, but made ". It means that, throughout life, you learn what it means to be a woman, how to behave and how to appear. Thus it introduces a distinction between nature and culture: the term sex refers to the physical characteristics and gender to the social norms. What does this mean for our understanding of being a woman, of being a man and of gender in general?


Demands of Second-Wave Feminism: right to self-determination, active political participation, full access to qualified jobs and right to abortion (My belly belongs to me).


The Wonderbra, the bra with thick and rigid cups, is the symbol of the physical and sexual liberation of women. Today women can dress as they want, show as much skin as they like and no one has to wear a corset anymore. Or maybe it is not so? Isn’t the Wonderbra perhaps also a symbol of the sexualization of women’s bodies in the media, of the pre-established ideals of beauty to which women must adapt to be considered “women”. There seems to be only a thin line between the two.

THE ‘50s

Post-war period – reconstruction – and relapse in the traditional female role patterns? In 1954 a commercial by Dr Oetker says that in life, a woman only asks herself two questions: "What should I wear? and What should I cook?” The invention of new household appliances makes daily domestic work easier and offers women more spare time. At the same time, the natural role of women as housewives and mothers is advocated.


Domestic work required less time in the past than it does today. What has not changed is that, in relationships or in families, women continue to invest most time of all in this (unpaid) work. What needs to be changed for a fairer distribution?


This photography out of the group of works called "In Between" by the artist from Val Gardena Vera Comploj, shows the moment of transformation into a Drag Queen: The transformation of a man into a woman for the next show.


The cloister of the former Convent of the Poor Clares in Merano (built in 1309).


A full breast makes women beautiful. Therefore, in the 70s, the PANTASTIK breast development treatment was developed. The tool and instruction manual should help women reach the finish line. How much time do women devote to modeling their body? And is it really only the breasts that make her beautiful?

International Association of Women’s Museums

Network of 96 Women's Museums
> [Visit our website](https://iawm.international/)

Ina Praetorius

„We are learning to no longer consider unpaid care work as a sector or even a marginal phenomenon, which begs for acceptance in theory and economic practice. We put the care at the center of the economy because that’s where it belongs. Without care, without attention to others there are no people, and without people there is no economy. Care is the center of all economic action.“

Ina Praetorius (*1956) is an evangelical theologian, writer, gender researcher, and feminist ethic expert.

A date with the apron

Not only in the past, but also at present time aprons are worn by different people: at work as well as in everyday life. The exhibition shows the diversity of an everyday garment. The texts are in German and in Italian.

Would you like to virtually visit the current temporary exhibition? Support us and purchase your ticket for the complete 3D tour now.
By the way, the online ticket is also valid as an admission ticket when you visit Merano.

Anita Augspurg and Lida Gustava Heymann

“If you want to avoid more wars in the future, then it is no longer possible to ignore the voice of women.”
Anita Augspurg (1857 - 1943) and Lida Gustava Heymann (1868 - 1943) are two German pacifists and activists of First-Wave Feminism.


The orange and oval object in the showcase is puzzling: it is a knitted model of a uterus with ovaries.
The midwife shoves a doll in there and explains to the future mothers the delivery. With the uterus, however, there are also other discussions, such as those related to hysteria or uterus transplants for men or trans*. But how central is fertility to the definition of a woman?


An explosive generational change triggers a profound social change. Today, these years of rebellion, are summarized as "The Movement of '68"; but the fact that women were seen and taken seriously in this movement, was anything but obvious.
How have women in the student movement made themselves heard - and what does all this have to do with the tomato?


The Women’s Museum of Merano was founded in 1988 by Evelyn Ortner (deceased in 1997) and its original premises were under the Portici. Since 2011 the museum is located in this historic building in Piazza del Grano.

Adriana Cavarero

„I don’t know what a woman wants, also because I try to avoid generalizations and universalization. I am avoiding turning a woman into an essence."
Adriana Cavarero (*1947) is an Italian political philosopher and feminist.

becoming me


The career woman is confident – the padding of the shoulders in the clothes, the jackets and coats show strength. Outside, women are strong – at home nothing needs to change, but the empowerment of women has entered society, and women are conquering new spaces in churches, parties and unions. The issues have not yet been resolved but are being elaborated: let’s say “work in progress”!

Kimberlé Crenshaw

“Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars travelling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. Similarly, if a Black woman is harmed because she is in an intersection, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination.”

Kimberlé Crenshaw (*1959) American lawyer and activist, expert on racial and gender issues President of the “Center for Intersectional Justice in Berlin”.


Hair has always had a strong meaning. The way hairstyles are made is always indicative of social conditions and conventions. They are a way to present oneself, but also the positioning in society – and an expression of rebellion. What messages does hair convey in history and in the present?


Since 1939, German mothers of National Socialism are awarded on the occasion of Mother’s Day with a medal called "Mother's Cross". What do awards such as the “Mother's Cross” in Germany or the "Medaglia d'onore per le madri di famiglie numerose" in Italy say about the image of women in this time?


Picture of a fascist family in Italy.
Motherhood - "The battlefield of women" (A. Hitler).
"War is to man as motherhood is to woman" (B. Mussolini)


Many women all over the world work, but worldwide they earn less than men. For this reason, on the occasion of an "Equal Pay Day" around the world, attention is drawn to the average gross hourly pay difference between men and women in the economy (Gender Pay Gap).


Within the specialized library of the Women’s Museum are collected books and magazines dedicated to women and gender. The library is not accessible to the public, but can be consulted on request.


In 1993 the Association of the "Women’s Museum - the Woman over the course of time" was founded, which still manages the Women’s Museum. The Women’s Museum is considered a place of exchange, discussion, and inspiration open to all. We want to inform and sensitize, raise and provoke questions, remember and make you smile!


Requests of First-Wave Feminism: employment, women’s studies, right to vote, new moral foundations.


Today, women have an excellent education and vocational training; they are competent, reliable, active and determined. However, management positions still present gender-related obstacles.
How can more women overcome these gender barriers and break the metaphorical glass ceiling, between middle and upper level positions?


> To the [Museumsentry](https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=KEgBJDgaRfw&play=1&lang=de&title=0&sr=-3.11,.18&ss=244) at the 3th floor