Two women in a boat

Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg , ca 1895-1903 Photo: Berg & Høeg / Preus museum

100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

A Voice and an Art of One’s Own

10.11 2021


Celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage with a symposium about women pioneers, innovative art and the fight for the vote. Together with the Stockholm Museum of Women’s History, Moderna Museet and Moderna Museet Malmö invite you to a full day with fashion and art historians, writers, journalists and artists who highlight the theme from different angles. Welcome to a day packed with history and art!

This year is the centennial of women’s suffrage in Sweden. How did women in the early-20th century manage to change society and their own terms as citizens and artists? Listen to lectures about brave and difficult women, the violent art activism of the British suffragettes, the colonial world image, and the need to express oneself through art.

During the day, the writer and cultural journalist Ulrika Knutsson, the artist Olivia Plender and the art historian Temi Odmosa will lecture in their specialist fields.

Programme. Please click on the times for more information


Welcome address by Joa Ljungberg, Curator Exibition, Moderna
Museet Malmö and Karin Malmquist, Curator, Learning, Moderna
Museet in Stockholm

Women’s road to citizenship and the vote

Christina Florin, professor emeritus, Women’s history (Stockholm)

Being a scholar of women’s history often means having to present a sad picture of women’s lives, opportunities and conditions in the past. But something changed in the mid-19th and early-20th centuries. This period was a turning point for women who, often single-handedly or with the aid of reformist men, turned a new page in history.  This lecture looks at what contributed to making women an important force in reforming society and their own lives.

Language: Swedish

Elements of Beauty

Carla Zaccagnini, artist (Malmö)

An art project about the suffragette actions against museums and galleries in the UK in 1913–1914. These actions were carried out to call attention to the lack of gender equality, women’s rights and the fight for women’s suffrage.

Language: English

Elin Wägner and difficult democracy

Ulrika Knutsson, arts journalist and writer (Stockholm)

Based on her book Den besvärliga Elin Wägner (The Difficult Elin Wägner, 2020), Ulrika Knutsson describes how Elin Wägner always challenged her contemporaries, demanding the impossible from her surroundings, and how the fight for women’s suffrage, peace, love and the environment was paramount to her.

Language: Swedish


Modern women

Emma Severinson, historian and senior lecturer in fashion studies (Malmö)

How notions of modernity, femininity and Swedishness formed the image of the modern woman.

Language: Swedish

The Fogelstad Citizen School for Women

Olivia Plender, artist (Stockholm)

About visionary feminist practices in the early 20th century, and what we can learn from these political and pedagogical experiments today. In English.

Language: Swedish

The story of Mazahr Makatemele

Rafaela Stålbalk Klose, journalist (Malmö)

What we can find in archives affects our entire historiography. Archivism is therefore and important initiative launched by the Stockholm Museum of Women’s History to find and highlight women from the past, while at the same time ensuring that today’s women are included in future historiography.A significant example of Archivism is the unearthing of Mazahr Makatemele’s life story – an early and important testimony of life conditions for black Swedish women.


Unfinished colonial histories

Temi Odumosu, art historian and researcher (Malmö)

On how the fight to get men and women recognised as full human beings and citizens did not include everyone. In English.

Women and artists in early 20th-century Sweden

Jessica Sjöholm Skrubbe, art historian and researcher (Stockholm)

What were the conditions for women artists like in the first decades of the 20th century? What networks and strategies were developed to navigate the male-dominated art world? This lecture deals with women’s opportunities to study art in Sweden, for further studies internationally, and for participating in exhibitions and competing on the art market.

Language: Swedish

Participating speakers

Christina Florin 

Christina Florin is a professor emeritus of women’s history at Stockholm University. Her research includes women’s education, culture and work, the road to suffrage and democracy, fostering maleness and the first women teachers and women academics.

Carla Zaccagnini

Artist, born in Buenos Aires, based in Malmö. Zaccagnini combines history research with an array of media and techniques, including drawing, installation, performance, text and video. Her widely-acknowledged project Elements of Beauty is about the British suffragettes and their violent actions against museums and galleries in the UK in 1913–1914, as part of the fight for women’s suffrage. In later works, she explores national symbols (visual and sonic) in a form of comparative study of words, colours and sounds. Zaccagnini is currently a professor of conceptual and contextual practices at Det Kongelige Akademi in Copenhagen, and is a curator of this year’s São Paolo biennale.

Emma Severinson

Senior lecturer, fashion studies at Lund University, a historian whose thesis concerned the 1920s modern Swedish woman. Her book Moderna kvinnor (Modern Women) explores the approach to the modern woman, a global phenomenon in the 1920s and 1930s, in a Swedish context. Sweden was presented as the promised land of gender equality, but it was considered important to have boundaries for femininity and modernity, in order to protect and preserve traditional Swedish femininity.

Ulrika Knutsson

Arts journalist and writer.  Her publications include Den besvärliga Elin Wägner (2020) about a pioneer of women’s liberation and the peace movement, and Kvinnor på gränsen till genombrott: grupporträtt av Tidevarvets kvinnor (Women on the Verge of Breakthrough: a group portrait of the Tidevarvet women, 2021) about the Fogelstad group and the Fogelstad Women Citizen School and its agenda to train women in active and responsible citizenship.

Olivia Plender

Artist, based in Stockholm and London. Studies social movements and their histories, including the 19th- and 20th-century labour movement and women’s movement. She recently collaborated with women grassroots organisations in a project about the East London Federation of the Suffragettes, with the aim of creating a model for a new socialist feminist society in one of Britain’s most impoverished areas. As in other projects, Plender focuses on what we can learn today from early-20th-century political and pedagogical experiments.

Rafaela Stålbalk Klose

A journalist who made the acclaimed documentary En värdig grav åt Svarta Sara (A Dignified Grave for Black Sara) in 2018 for Swedish Radio P1, about the South African Mazahr Makatemele who came to Kalmar in 1862, an early and important story about the forgotten history of black women in Sweden. Recently made a radio documentary about the samba queen Elza Soares. Stålbalk Klose is also a contributor to Arkivism: en handbok, published by the Stockholm Museum of Women’s History and Volante, 2020.

Temi Odumosu

Art historian, curator and university lecturer in cultural studies. In the Living Archives project at Malmö University, Odumosu has researched de-colonisation and archives – how can we resurrect the voices and dignity of previously colonised and dehumanised people? Her field of research includes expressions of colonial visual culture, archive management, memorials and ethical questions relating to representation. She is currently a member of the research network The Art of Nordic Colonialism: Writing Transcultural Art Histories.

Jessica Sjöholm Skrubbe

Docent in art history, Stockholm University. Previously worked as a university lecturer in art history and gender studies at Uppsala University. Researches women artists and politics from a historical perspective. In 2015, she published the book  Nell Walden & Der Sturm.

Marika Eriksson

Museologist and popular educator on social media with Instagram account and podcast “Kvinnohistoria” – focusing on herstory.

Camilla Burvall Terán

Producer, the Stockholm museum of Women’s history.

Moderna Museet Malmö is showing “The Man with the Blue Face”, and Moderna Museet in Stockholm offers the exhibition “In Lady Barclay’s Salon – Art and Photography around 1900”. Gender roles were renegotiated and major progress was made towards gender equality.