Women from Edinburgh’s present celebrate those from its past to mark International Women’s Day

To mark International Women’s Day 2021 curators from Museums and Galleries Edinburgh are showcasing a selection of fascinating women from Edinburgh’s past.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 5:10 pm
Lileen Hardy and children gardening at St Saviour's Child Garden
Lileen Hardy and children gardening at St Saviour's Child Garden

Running from March 8-12, the series profiles five pioneering women whose lives are reflected in the city’s history collections.

The selection includes: Ella Morrison Millar (1869-1959) Edinburgh’s first female Town councillor; Nannie, Agnes Henderson, Brown (1866 -1943) a prominent Edinburgh-born suffragist; Lileen Hardy (1872-1947) who opened the St. Saviour’s Child Garden in 1906 in the Canongate; Helen Monro Turner (1901-1977) who founded the studio glass department at Edinburgh College of Art and Ena Thomson (1907-1989) who served as an Air Raid Warden in Edinburgh’s Air Raid Precaution corps during WWII.

The story of each woman is explored and showcased using objects linked to them from the collection which include: a studio portrait of Nannie Brown, a pair of Ella Morrison Miller’s gold leather purchased from Edinburgh’s well-known department store Darlings in the 1930’s and WWII ARP identification papers for Ena Thomson.

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Nannie Brown portrait

These objects and many others have been unearthed as part of the ongoing Auld Reekie Retold inventory project which is working to connect Edinburgh’s people to its collections.

From March 8, curators will reveal full details of each woman’s story alongside the items from the collection which connects their own unique history, providing compelling insight into our city’s history from just a few of the women who helped shape the Edinburgh we know today.

The series will be accompanied by a fascinating programme of free digital lectures and family events including Scots Women who Chose to Challenge with Jackie Sangster, Aunts: In Fact and Fiction with Ruthanne Baxter, An (Almost) A to Z of Modern Scottish Women Artists with Alice Strang as well as many others.

Look Outside, a family craft event inspired by the work of artist Kate Downie and Votes for Women - The Keystone to Liberty, a digital performance from Edinburgh Living History will also be part of the event.

Ella Morrison Millar Portrait

For full details and bookings visit - www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/whats-on

The series will be introduced by Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, vice convenor of culture and communities will be shared online via the Museums & Galleries Edinburgh social media channels and website.

Councillor McNeese-Mechan said: “It is fascinating to learn about how our collections both preserve and mirror the work of women in Edinburgh’s civic and cultural life. This series shines a light on five women who made significant contributions to our city’s history but who sadly are far from well known.

I hope the stories of these wonderful women will inspire you and I look forward to more discoveries from the Auld Reekie Retold project.”

Helen Edwards, applied art curator with Museums and Galleries Edinburgh said: “Working on the Auld Reekie Retold project has given us the opportunity to research some of the hidden histories behind our collections. It’s been fascinating looking into some of the stories of the pioneering women from Edinburgh, and International Women’s day is a real chance to get their stories out to a wider audience and let their voices be heard.”

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