Women and museums 1850–1914

Modernity and the gendering of knowledge

By Kate Hill

Women and museums 1850–1914


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8115-6
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: June 2016
  • BIC Category: United Kingdom, Great Britain, Social & cultural history, HISTORY / Women, HISTORY / Social History, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: women, Humanities / Social & cultural history, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, Humanities / British & Irish history, Museum, Historic Sites, Gallery & Art Guides, History
  • Series: Gender in History


This book recovers the significant contribution made by women to museums, not just in obvious roles such as workers, but also as donors, visitors, volunteers and patrons. It suggests that women persistently acted to domesticate the museum, by importing domestic objects and domestic regimes of value, as well as by making museums more welcoming to children, and even by stressing the importance of housekeeping at the museum. At the same time, women sought 'masculine' careers in science and curatorship, but found such aspirations hard to achieve; their contribution tended to be kept within clear, feminised areas.

The book will be of interest to those working on gender, culture, or museums in the period. It sheds new light on women's material culture and material strategies, education and professional careers, and leisure practices. It will form an important historical context for those working in contemporary museum studies.


'Kate Hill's Women and Museums, 1850-1914: Modernity and the Gendering of Knowledge, part of Manchester University Press's Gender in History series, is not only a masterful work of historical scholarship and careful theoretical, historiographical, and methodological intervention, but also a bracingly relevant and important book. In her sophisticated and nuanced treatment of gender and museums (including all kinds of collections, in all kinds of institutional settings), Hill makes a remarkable contribution that deserves to be read by all those interested in Victorian history and gender, as well as those specifically studying museums and collections. Crucially, her work also helps us think about the interactions between gender, power, and knowledge production in our own day. What comes out of this remarkable study, then, is a new way to appreciate the extraordinarily malleable and fascinating space that is the modern museum, in all of its many guises.'
Amy Woodson-Boulton, Loyola Marymount University, Victorian Studies, Vol 60, No. 3


List of figures
List of abbreviations
1. Inside the museum: including or excluding women?
2. Outside the museum: women as donors and vendors
3. Outside the museum: women's donations, materiality and the museum object
4. Women visiting museums
5. Women as patrons: the limits of agency?
6. New disciplines: archaeology, anthropology and women in museums
7. Ruskin, women and museums: service and salvage


Kate Hill is Principal Lecturer in History at the University of Lincoln

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