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Women-Only Exhibit In Australian Museum To Become Toilet To Keep Men Out

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An Australian museum, fighting to keep its exhibition open only to women, is installing a toilet in the gallery to keep men out. According to the BBC, an exhibit by American artist Kirsha Kaechele, titled “Ladies Lounge” in Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art opened in 2020 to only those who identify as women. However, it was closed after a man, who was denied entry into the lounge in 2023, filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the museum. The Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found the museum to be in violation of the state’s anti-discriminatory law and ordered it to allow “persons who do not identify as ladies” to enter the exhibition. 

On Tuesday, the museum appealed to reverse the ruling, arguing that it took “too narrow a view on women’s historical and ongoing societal disadvantage” and how the ‘Ladies Lounge’ can “promote equal opportunity”. According to the BBC, Ms Kaechele said she will challenge the ruling by making the space “compliant” with regulations, and by turning it into a women’s toilet and a church – allowing it to operate as a women-only space under legal exemptions. 

“There is a fabulous toilet coming to the Ladies Lounge, and so in that sense the Ladies Lounge will operate as a ladies’ room,” Ms Kaechele said. “It’s a toilet that is celebrated the world round. It is the greatest toilet, and men won’t be allowed to see it,” she added. 

Ms Kaechele said that the artwork will be moved into the existing women’s toilet for now to ensure “uninterrupted viewing”. However, men who want to enter will be allowed to do so on Sundays. 

“Women can bring in all their clean laundry and the men can go through a series of graceful movements (designed by a Rinpoche and refined by tai chi masters) to fold them,” she said, in an interview published by the museum on Tuesday.

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According to The Independent, the lounge features artworks by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Sidney Nolan. The space was inaugurated in 2020, based on the concept of old-fashioned Australian pubs where women were largely excluded till the 1960s.

Speaking about the lawsuit, the artist said that it has been a “blessing in disguise”. “Thanks to the ruling, we have no choice but to open ourselves to a whole range of enriching experiences – spiritual, educational… to discover fascinating new possibilities, and to become better,” she said.

The toilet will be installed in the next 45 days, the outlet reported.

​An Australian museum, fighting to keep its exhibition open only to women, is installing a toilet in the gallery to keep men out. 

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