The Baltimore Museum Will Exclusively Acquire Work by Women Artists in 2020 in an Effort to ‘Rectify Centuries of Imbalance’

Its exhibition programming will also center around women artists.

The Baltimore Museum of Art. Courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art.
The Baltimore Museum of Art. Courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The Baltimore Museum of Art has announced that it will acquire only works by women artists next year. The new policy is designed to mitigate decades of marginalization of female artists, according to museum leadership.

“You don’t purchase one painting by a female artist of color and hang it on the wall next to a painting by Mark Rothko. To rectify centuries of imbalance, you have to do something radical,” museum director Christopher Bedford told the Baltimore Sun.

Each of the institution’s 22 upcoming exhibitions will also have a female-centric focus, and 19 will highlight works made exclusively by women (including at least one transgender woman, Zackary Drucker). Two of the shows will look at how male artists perceive women, and another will commemorate the work of Adelyn Breeskin, who served as director of the museum for twenty years, from 1942 to 1962.

“We think all museums should do it,” Bianca Kovic, incoming director of the National Association of Women Artists in New York, told the Sun. “It’s particularly important that the [Baltimore Museum] is creating a platform for women artists to showcase their work, because that will inspire other women to make art. Even today, female artists are highly under-represented in museums. We have a lot of work still to do about educating the public on the importance of women in American art history.”

Prior to its new initiative, just four percent of the Baltimore Museum’s 95,000 works in its permanent collection were by women. In American museums more generally, works by female artists made up just 11 percent of all acquisitions and 14 percent of exhibitions, according to an Artnet News study of 26 prominent American museums over the past decade. Of the 260,470 works of art that entered the museums’ permanent collections since 2008, only 29,247 were by women.

“We’re attempting to correct our own canon,” Bedford told the Sun. “We recognize the blind spots we have had in the past, and we are taking the initiative to do something about them.”


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