Celebrating and Archiving a Modern Mothers’ Movement – We Put Motherhood on the Map!
The idea for the Museum of Motherhood was conceived by Martha Joy Rose in 2003. The first exhibits were located in the Mommy Girl Go-Go Store at 82 Main Street in Dobbs Ferry, NY and comprised a small library, some ephemera, and music made by mom bands. The idea was trademarked in 2005 and followed by the creation of the Motherhood Foundation Inc (MFI)., a 501c3 non-profit with the aid of a team of local volunteers.
During this time, Joy also founded the MaMaPaLooZa Festival series which promoted the idea of the museum and the non-profit MFI, which worked closely with the Westchester Office of Women and New York Parks Department to create women-empowered and mom-branded events that were educational and performance-oriented. Traveling exhibits, arts and academic conferences, and an online presence were part of the MaMaPaLooZa presentations in twenty-five cities and four countries over the span of ten years. The festival reached millions.
In 2010, a MOMS ROCK exhibit was organized on Fall Street in Seneca Falls, NY, featuring Joy and her band Housewives On Prozac after they had been awarded the key to the city. This lead to the first full-time exhibition space opening at 401 E. 84th Street in the UES Manhattan.
The MoM space in NYC was donated by Gymboree franchise owners Deb Whitefield and Barry Hanson. This first semi-permanent location comprised approximately 2,500 square feet. Within that were a variety of stations (exhibits) that featured science, art, and history; The Womb Room with RealCareTM Babies, and Pregnancy Simulator Vests; The Suffragette Sitting Room, featuring a large “Write Out Loud” wall, encouraging people to share Grief-itti and their stories while raising their voices, The Seneca Falls Room, Moms of Rock, Global Perspectives, Caregiving perspectives, a stage, a play area, a rotating gallery, a reading area (for children), and an adult library.
Travelers from Angola, Mexico, and the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, England, Scotland, Italy, Israel (to name a few) made the museum a destination. Interns from local colleges and high schools constituted approximately 60 volunteer and research participants per annum with a total of 40,000 visitors over 29 months (2011-2014). An active board oversaw many of MoM’s initiatives including acquisitions, the Motherhood Hall of Fame, art auctions, social outreach, and a multitude of programming activities.
After the initial experiment on the Upper East Side completed its tenure, university exhibits were launched. Joy earned her Master’s at CUNY, The Graduate Center in Mother Studies and began teaching in the Sociology Department at Manhattan College. Successive rotating presentations were forthcoming on behalf of MoM at the O’Malley Library on campus (2015 & 2019). The Annual Academic MoM Conference continued its activities (since 2005) with the launch of the Journal of Mother Studies (JourMS) in 2015, and the help of the Academic Advisory Board each year in partnership with multiple institutions including the Women’s Media Center, MSU, Mankato, Marymount Manhattan College, Manhattan College, and USF to name a few.
Relocation to St. Petersburg, Florida in 2016-17 saw the inception of the MoM Art Annex in the Historic District of Kenwood. Tours with the Artist Enclave of St. Pete launched in 2017, along with guest Artist Residencies, internships, and onsite tours. The MoM Art Annex 501c3 Florida non-profit was formed in 2019. As of 2022, the MoM Art Annex Project, which serves as an incubator for the expansion of the Museum of Motherhood, has been registered with the State of Florida. Local team-building efforts in Florida and internationally have ensued with rotating online exhibits, a vibrant internship program and the inclusion of new staff and board members.
The MoM Art Annex is made possible by Martha Joy Rose and is her personal live/work space. Joy won an Arts Alliance Individual Artist Grant in 2021, is an AEHK (Artist Enclave of Historic Kenwood) member, and devotes her time as well as the annex space to serve as the incubator for championing the growth of MoM and its activities in Florida.