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Australian ladies-only art exhibit ordered to open doors to male visitors

A tribunal branded the policy “discriminatory” after a local man complained

An Australian museum has been ordered to allow male visitors into a ladies-only art exhibit after a local tribunal ruled that the gender-based ban had violated the rights of men. 

The decision comes after a man who was refused entry filed a complaint. The Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TASCAT) ruled on Tuesday that the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in the city of Hobart must stop turning male visitors away from its Ladies Lounge installation. 

Opened in 2020, Ladies Lounge is described by MONA as “a tremendously lavish space,” serving female visitors food and champagne, while the exhibition showcases artworks from the museum’s collection, including Picassos and Sidney Nolans, as well antiquities from around the world. 

The display was organized by artist and museum curator Kirsha Kaechele, whose husband David Walsh is MONA’s owner. The court ruling comes in response to a complaint filed in March by Jason Lau, who claimed that his rights had been violated when he paid the museum’s AU$35 ($23) entry fee in April last year, but was denied entry to the exhibition.

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“It is not apparent how restricting appreciation of the art within the space to women promotes opportunity for female artists to have their work displayed,” said the tribunal’s deputy president, Richard Grueber. 

He said the court had found no apparent connection between the imposed restrictions and the promotion of opportunities for female artists to have their work displayed. The practices adopted by managers of the exhibition constituted “direct discrimination,” Grueber added.

Commenting on the order, Kaechele said denying men entry to the mysterious room had been a vital part of the art exhibition, which gave them a taste of the discrimination and exclusion that many women experienced throughout history. The curator noted that women didn’t have the right to drink in public bars until 1965, and were instead relegated to ladies’ lounges. The museum now has 28 days to begin admitting male visitors.

April 12, 2024 at 03:32PM
RT

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