The Women’s Museum of California is set to open its new Southeast San Diego location in early June after closing its Liberty Station site during the pandemic.
“This is one of the most underserved and marginalized communities, and most diverse, in the entire county," said Felicia Shaw, the museum's executive director. "We thought there could be a major role we could play as a cultural hub, not just for women, but for all people to learn about women’s history."
Shaw went on to say: “This is not your mother’s museum.”
She described it as an interactive space where "you're not expected to come and stand in front of some walls and walls of text and didactics. ... What you are expected to do is roll up your sleeves and find your place in this work. Ask questions. Do things, activities!”
The space provides a history lesson about the barriers that women have faced, as well as their victories — such as the right to vote and greater equality in the workplace.
Artistic director Katie Ruiz said the museum also showcased artwork from local women.
“I really wanted to bring in local artists who are doing community projects and creating textile art that is activist or feminist in nature," Ruiz said. "So all the works you see in this show were created by local artists in the region.”
Ruiz said the museum was using a bilingual approach to connect with a more diverse group of San Diegans.
Regardless of language, she wants people to understand that activism comes in many forms.
“I think that people think activism has to be marching in the streets, where it doesn't necessarily have to be,” Ruiz said. “It can be making an artwork, it can be making a poster, it can be talking to someone and helping educate someone else, it can be coming to a space like this and learning — all of those things are activism.”
Shaw said the museum was making it affordable for all community members to come explore.
“Because we are new to the community, we offered free memberships to everyone within the five ZIP codes of the southeastern community," she said. "So that’s a benefit that: 'Hey, not just come, but become a member of our organization for entirely free.'"
Shaw said that, beginning June 4, the museum will be open to the public on the first Saturday of every month. Most other days will require an appointment.
“We hope that they go home activists,” Ruiz said. “We hope that they go home with a toolkit of ideas of ways that they can create something that can help someone or help themselves, or make a difference somehow in the world.”
The new location for the Women’s Museum of California is located at the Jacobs Center For Neighborhood Innovation at 404 Euclid Ave in San Diego.