Swiss Museums Dedicated Just a Quarter of Their Solo Shows to Women Artists Over the Past Decade

So much for neutrality.

A woman viewing work by Van Gogh in the Kunsthaus Zurich Museum. Photo by SylvainGRANDADAM/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.
A woman viewing work by Van Gogh in the Kunsthaus Zurich Museum. Photo by SylvainGRANDADAM/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

Despite a growing push for gender parity in art institutions around the world, the gap in Swiss museums is still widely imbalanced, according to a new survey. Only a quarter of solo museum shows in Switzerland have been dedicated to women over the past decade, while the percentage of women in group shows was only slightly higher, at 31 percent, says the survey, which was conducted by swissinfo.ch and Swiss public television, RTS.

The findings, culled from data provided by 80 museums, showed that the country’s five most popular institutions were particularly uneven, with not a single one of them showing more than 25 percent women. The Kunsthaus Zürich, the country’s third most popular museum, only gave 15 percent of its solo shows to women in the past 10 years.

“Our museum reflects the artistic rules and principles of the last 600 years—there were lots more men. When we have contemporary art shows, however, we seek to install a balance between sexes,” Kunsthaus Zürich spokesperson Björn Quellenberg told the survey. “When we ask the public what they would like to see, they often tell us the names of famous male artists.”

Between 2008 and 2018, only 26 percent of Swiss museum solo shows have been dedicated to women. Courtesy of swissinfo.ch.

Between 2008 and 2018, only 26 percent of Swiss museum solo shows have been dedicated to women. Courtesy of swissinfo.ch.

Several museums—including the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Genève, the Maison Tavel in Genève, Musée Rath in Genève, Museum Oskar Reinhart in Winterthur, and the Pinacoteca comunale in Locarno—did not have a single solo show for a women artist over the past decade.

But there were a few exceptions to the trend. The Musée Alexis Forel in Morges, canton Vaud, gave 81 percent of its solo shows to female artists. Meanwhile, the Museum Nairs in Scuol showed 55 percent women, followed by the Kunsthalle Basel at 53 percent, the Centre d’art Pasquart in Biel at 52 percent, and the Kunsthaus Grenchen at 51 percent. But, overall, of the total museums polled, only eight showed more work by women than men.


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