Women’s Unknown Contributions to Museums in Egypt Nagwa Abdel Zaher Mohamed Bakr, Osama Abd El-Wareth, Aly Omar Abdalla

Document Type : Academic peer-reviewed articles


Women’s participation in museums is critical to realizing the concepts of gender equality and cultural diversity, which ICOM1 has emphasized for the past 30 years through social media platforms where museums promote different activities, awareness of the roles that women play in museums. Besides, recently women are playing a remarkable role in the development of museums and museology.
This research aims to uncover the previously unknown roles of women in Egyptian museums, prior to the establishment of museums as official institutions dedicated to community education. These roles are seen as pivotal in the development of Egypt’s museum and museology concepts. Since ancient times, women have had the same curiosity as men in acquiring priceless objects. For example.; in the Islamic era, many women had got wedding gifts included antiques, jewelry, and adornment tools made of silver and gold. In addition, elite women were passionate about owning artistic objects; so, they asked craftsmen to manufacture special masterpieces to own by themselves, such as ceramic, metal dishes and jugs. 2 These contributions ranged from the notion of collecting to donating, visiting, and eventually employed in museums. The research sheds light on ICOM’s decisions on gender equality in museum programs, as well as addressing some historical roles for women’s contributions. This is in addition to discussions and communication with museum curators and field experts to collect photographs and information about certain women that have not been mentioned in references nor museums’ archives.


For more than 30 years, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has confirmed women equality and gender mainstreaming as a vital concern in the field of museums. In 1998, ICOM formed the Cultural Diversity Policy Framework, and by 2010, the 25th General Assembly gathering in Shanghai, China, held the Charter for Cultural Diversity. 3 The charter’s purpose was to create guidelines and curricula for how museums should deal with cultural and biological diversity, as well as to affirm and recognize all forms of cultural diversity locally, regionally, and globally.  Additionally, to encourage museums to reflect this diversity in all their activities and programs. This was previously agreed upon and reinforced in the 2001 UNESCO4  World Declaration in respect to cultural diversity. 5