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The staggering lack of female artists in America’s museums | Axios

By Anna Braz, Nicki, Camberg, Victoria Ellis, Sept 10, 2022 – Science

Illustration: Victoria Ellis/Axios

Women are the muses of the art in our museums, but rarely the creators.

Why it matters: Female artists’ work is a fraction of what’s displayed in museums, but that’s not due to a lack of women in art.

By the numbers: A recent analysis of major U.S. art museums by researchers at Williams College found that just 13% of artists featured in those collections were women. But some 55% of working artists are women, per data from the career platform Zippia.

The big picture: Kelema Moses, an art history expert and professor at the University of California, San Diego, points to a centuries-old pattern of women being left out of the art world.

  • “Let’s think back to the renaissance,” she says. “Women were kept out of art schools and institutions, and therefore could not become artists with a capital ‘A’.”

Now, women make up the majority of art students and working artists, but they’re still catching up to that long history of exclusion.

  • And museum directors or those in charge of curating the art are majority male, Moses notes.
  • “It’s sort of cliche to say that representation matters, but it really does. To see yourself, or at least a portion of your identity represented in museum spaces is critical because it can act as a vector for social change,” Moses says.

What to watch: Change is coming — albeit gradually.