Nantes women at work From the 18th century to nowadays
« Women have been working since the Second World War »… » « They can
take the French baccalauréat since it was created »… « They’ve always had access to vocational training »… « They’ve only recently had access to intellectual professions»… « Today they earn as much as their male colleagues »…
Through this exhibition, Nantes history museum suggested that, in collaboration with the Nantes History Workshop and the AURAN (Town-planning agency of Nantes’ urban area), misconceptions should be debunked! So the public can find out that the women;in Nantes’ urban area have always been at work, in trade as well as in the industrial sector, that the first secondary school that gave access to young girls in Nantes, Guist’hau secondary school, opened its doors only in 1882, that professional training for young girls in Nantes has been taken care of since 1869, thanks to Ange and Floresca Guépin, that thereafter women very quickly held positions as heads in middle and secondary schools… and many other things!
Contemporary issues and particularly the place that women took in the fights for trade union rights or simply the place they have nowadays in the working force, are also largely raised in the exhibition, through documents, filmed testimonies and photographic portraits showing the whole contemporary dimension of such a topic.
For one weekend in October 2010, the women of Nantes were invited to have their photo taken by Alain Guillard at the Museum with an object symbolizing their professional activity. They were also asked to describe their condition and relationship to men in the work world, as well as the importance of their personal lives. 21 portraits of women were made.
These 40x60 cm (15x23 in.) pictures were displayed on the ground floor of the exhibition, accompanied by an excerpt of each woman’s spoken account.
Curator: Krystel Gualdé (Nantes history museum)
Scénography: Laurence Chabot
Graphic design: Nathalie Fonteneau - collectif AKT 3
Architecture: Clément Bacle - collectif AKT 3