The Citi exhibition Feminine power: the divine to the demonic

Explore the British Museum exhibition on until 25th September 2022

British Museum

What do our visitors think?British Museum

What are our visitors saying about the exhibition?

Feminine power takes you on a journey through 5,000 years of belief in female spiritual beings.  Explore the significant role that goddesses, demons, witches, spirits and saints have played – and continue to play – in shaping our understanding of the world.

Visitor inside the Feminine power exhibitionBritish Museum

Get a sneak peek

Scroll down and explore the exhibition's five sections, each introduced by a high-profile guest collaborator offering their own personal insights. 

Bonnie GreerBritish Museum

Creation and nature | Bonnie Greer

Bonnie Greer offers her own insights into this section on the origins of life, our place within the universe, and the power of the natural world.

Judy Chicago (b.1939), 'The Creation', part of 'The Birth Project'. Print, 1985. Reproduced by permission of the artist.British Museum

Creation and nature | Object in focus

This vibrant print, The Creation, by the contemporary artist Judy Chicago reimagines the Christian creation story from a feminist perspective. It challenges the ‘fake news’ of a male god creating the first man by showing a female deity lying in a birthing position.

Mary BeardBritish Museum

Passion and desire | Mary Beard

Here, guest collaborator Mary Beard explores the figure of Venus. This section delves into some of the ways in which passion and erotic desire have been spiritually associated with feminine influence and the naked female body.

'Lilith', Kiki Smith, 1994. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, photo by Hyla Skopitz.British Museum

Passion and desire | Object in focus

This sculpture by Kiki Smith depicts the demon Lilith. In Jewish mystical texts, Lilith asserts her equality, refusing to subordinate herself to Adam. In this arresting depiction, Smith cast the image of Lilith from the body of a real woman and added piercing eyes of blue glass.

Elizabeth DayBritish Museum

Magic and malice | Elizabeth Day

Guest collaborator Elizabeth Day delves into the world of witchcraft.  This section explores how female demons, witches and monsters permeate mythology and folklore from across the globe, defying expectations of submissive female behaviour, idealised within certain cultures.

Carved stone figure of a cihuateotl, Mexico, around 1400–1521.British Museum

Magic and malice | Object in focus

Cihuateteo (divine women) were ambiguous beings. The spirits of women who died in childbirth, they were honoured for their bravery and sacrifice. They were also feared and believed to descend to earth on certain days of the year to steal the children of the living.

Rabia SiddiqueBritish Museum

Justice and defence | Rabia Siddique

Rabia Siddique explores how the battlefield is often the domain of divine female warriors, conquering hostile forces through superior aggression and wisdom.

'Kali Murti', Kaushik Ghosh, 2022.British Museum

Justice and defence | Object in focus

 The Hindu goddess Kali is both feared and loved. Terrifying in appearance, she is connected to the creative and destructive power of time. This contemporary icon of the goddess was commissioned for the exhibition by Kaushik Ghosh, a Kolkata-based artist.

Deborah Frances-WhiteBritish Museum

Compassion and salvation | Deborah Frances-White

Deborah Frances-White of the 'Guilty Feminist' podcast introduces this section on compassion, often viewed as an intrinsically feminine or masculine quality in different traditions around the world. 

Porcelain figure of Guanyin, China, 18th century.British Museum

Compassion and salvation | Object in focus

Guanyin is a Buddhist bodhisattva – an enlightened being who remains close to the world to guide others towards nirvana.  In this 18th century porcelain figure, Guanyin is shown with many arms fanned out around her, symbolising her ability to reach everyone in need.

What does feminine power mean to you?British Museum

What does feminine power mean to you?

Join the conversation and discover more here. The exhibition Feminine power is open until 25 September, 2022. 

Credits

Visitor inside the Citi exhibition, Feminine power: the divine to the demonic.


Lilith
, Kiki Smith, 1994. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, photo by Hyla Skopitz.

Carved stone figure of a cihuateotl, Mexico, around 1400–1521.

Judy Chicago (b.1939), The Creation, part of The Birth Project. Print, 1985. Reproduced by permission of the artist.

Kali Murti, Kaushik Ghosh, 2022.

Porcelain figure of Guanyin, China, 18th century.

Images © The Trustees of the British Museum

Sponsored by Citi.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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