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Grandmother Power Celebrated in Museum Exhibit

On September 6, 2013, the Grand Rapids Public Museum in Michigan opened the first museum exhibit totally devoted to celebrating grandmothers. Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon features 120 activist grandmothers in 15 countries on 5 continents Paola Gianturco interviewed and photographed in her book by the same name.

Paola’s book evolved when she took a sabbatical from her advertising job and decided to spend the one million frequent flier miles she had accumulated while working. She set out on a quest to find out what grandmothers around the world are doing to make life better for their grandchildren. Her journey resulted in her award-winning book Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon.

Between June 2009 and February 2011 she interviewed and photographed grandmothers in Kenya, India, Ireland, Guatemala, Argentina, Peru, and the Philippines who are bringing back old traditions, creating new ones and improving the quality of lives not only for their grandchildren but for all the people in their communities.

The exhibit ends February 2, 2014 when it will travel around the country.

The grandmother stories are displayed in eight 10-foot high pillars, representing the pillars of society, with 5-foot wide photos of the women Paola interviewed. Visitors can take an audio tour narrated by Paola and write stories about their own grandmothers on an interactive station in the exhibit. They can also sit in rocking chairs and read her book. When Paola visited the exhibit for the first time, she sat in a rocker facing the large wall of 121 photos of all the grandmothers she interviewed and got tears in her eyes imagining that all of the women were there in spirit.

Paola has three dreams for her book:

  1. Raise money for grandmothers in Africa who are raising their grandchildren orphaned by AIDS. She donates 100 percent of the book’s royalties to Toronto’s Stephen Lewis Foundation.
  2. Blast the assumption of grandmothers sitting in rocking chairs.
  3. Inspire others to use their wisdom, experience, energy, and power on behalf of grandchildren everywhere, all of whom deserve to live in a better world.

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