Merano, prolific centre of South Tyrol and strategic point under the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, hosts the first Women's Museum in Italy. The founder of this museum was Evelyn Ortner, an Austrian woman with a passion for vintage collecting who desired to make her objects – clothes and accessories – usable to the people. In 1988 Evelyn was able to open her clothing museum, later known and developed in the Women's Museum.
When you look at the building in which the institution is located, you can understand that it was an ancient cloister, once belonging to the Poor Clare order. Indeed, the historic building was erected in 1309 and until 1792 it was used as a devotion venue, as well for education and as place for arts and crafts guilds.
The Museum has got two rooms. The first one contains the permanent collection, which leads visitors to the evolution of women clothing and fashion, habits and household cleaning tools. What it is interesting here is the windows in which the era of the technology arrival is described. The first dishwashers and washing machines models are exhibited within.
There was a strange object, looking like an oval ball and I had no clue on what it was. When I asked some questions to the guide, she told me it was a mini-manual washing machine called Perla, used to wash underwear and socks. That meant not to waste water and electricity; the guide also said those kind of machines might be returning in the market.
The Institution aims to reach equal gender opportunities to women and it is engaged in raising awareness in social and ecological matters. Also it works as a Cultural Centre and it promotes projects towards multicultural cooperation and dialogues.
In the second room, it takes place an exhibition of 22 female portraits. The women depicted are coming from different countries and fields of work, but they are associated for the strong will and commitment they put in their lives and in the world. They are the most important women in the world: writers, lawyers, politics, artists, human right activists photographed by Bettina Flitner.
The Museum is open from Monday to Friday 10.00 - 17.00 Saturday 10.00 - 12.30