'Deeply saddened': Australian court rules against 'women-only' art exhibit

The court gave the museum 28 days to 'cease refusing entry' to 'persons who do not identify as ladies'

By AFP

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File photo used for illustrative purposes only
File photo used for illustrative purposes only

Published: Thu 11 Apr 2024, 11:26 AM

Last updated: Thu 11 Apr 2024, 12:03 PM

An artist who banned men from seeing her Australian museum exhibit said Thursday she was "saddened" by a court decision forcing her to admit "persons who do not identify as ladies".

Kirsha Kaechele set up the "Ladies Lounge" at Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), in part as a protest against discrimination and men's only social clubs, which existed for centuries virtually unchecked.


The lounge features a collection of antiquities and work by leading artists. A male visitor launched a discrimination case last year after being denied entry to the lounge.

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A court this week agreed that because he had paid the $23 entry fee he should be able to access all areas of the museum, including the Ladies Lounge.

According to the court, the museum had violated Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination Act. The court gave the museum 28 days to "cease refusing entry" to "persons who do not identify as ladies".

Although MONA did not dispute that the lounge is discriminatory, the museum argued that the point of the "participatory installation" was that men were not there.

Kaechele had described the exhibit as a response to the experience of women being forbidden from entering certain spaces throughout history.

Its name is a nod to the time before 1970s when women were denied entry to public bars and had to sit in ladies lounges.

"I am deeply saddened by the court's ruling," Kaechele said in a statement posted on Instagram.

"I have been granted a 28 day period. This allows me space to absorb the situation, seek counsel and compose myself," she added.

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