Picture a museum gallery featuring a painted screen from 17th century Japan sharing space with a 1970s’ photograph of a woman’s nude body. Nearby is a wardrobe of garments that visitors can touch and try on.  

“Women Breaking Boundaries” aims to disrupt the typical museum experience. 

The exhibition, on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum through April 12, consists of 38 works of art from the museum’s permanent collection created by self-identified female artists from the 17th century to today. The selected artworks are in a variety of mediums, including oil on canvas, metalwork, ceramic, print, photography and fashion.

Dr. Ainsley M. Cameron, curator of South Asian art, Islamic art and Antiquities, says she brought the works together in collaboration with her curatorial colleagues at the museum. Cameron’s goal was to apply a globally inclusive approach when examining the museum’s permanent collection. As a result, the works on display represent different art forms and movements, and originate from different countries, regions and time periods. These are works that are not usually seen together in a museum setting. The contemporary shares space with the historic, inviting viewers to reflect on the past and envision the future.

“When I started to examine the collection and reflect on the artists I wanted to present, it seemed like a fantastic feat to bring them all together. But very quickly important universal themes started to emerge that created profound connections in a gallery setting,” Cameron says. “We’re thinking critically about the representation of women artists in museum collections, and this

exhibition provides a springboard to honor and champion the role of women in the arts.”

“Women Breaking Boundaries” is the museum’s main contribution to ArtsWave’s Power of Her initiative, a collaboration of Cincinnati arts organizations recognizing the 100th anniversary of the ratification n of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote in 1919. Power of Her began in June 2019 and runs through December 2020. 

In addition to the exhibition, the Cincinnati Art Museum will also celebrate the Power of Her by focusing most of their permanent gallery rotations on female artists. Throughout the museum, works by female artists and strong depictions of female figures are identified through a new gallery map that encourages all visitors to view the museum through the lens of gender and representation. 

Since its debut in October, “Women Breaking Boundaries” has elicited the type of response Cameron hoped for when she curated the exhibition. 

“People are sharing personal and heartfelt stories of the boundaries they had to break in their own lives and experiences,” Cameron says. “They are creating both emotional and intellectual connections to the works on display – it’s an honor to play a part in their experience and to create a show people are responding to.”

Cincinnati Art Museum is located at 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202. “Women Breaking Boundaries” will be on view through April 12 in the Vance Waddell and Mayerson Galleries (124 and 125). Admission is free. Hours are 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, and 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday. Visit www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org for more information.