The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has announced that it will only buy art by women next year, as part of the BMA’s 2020 Vision initiative.
The 210,000-square-foot museum, founded in 1914 famously exhibits the Cone Collection, brought together by Baltimore sisters Dr. Claribel and Etta Cone, which includes works by artists including Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Pierre-August Renoir. The museum is also home to 18,000 works of French mid-19th century art from the George A. Lucas collection.
Right now only four percent of the museum’s collection is by female artists. As part of the BMA’s 2020 Vision initiative, and with an acquisition budget of $2 million the museum will showcase at least 20 exhibitions featuring work from a diverse range of women. Other exhibitions include works already featured by Georgia O’Keeffe, Grace Hartigan and others, as part of the museum’s plan.
The BMA’s decision, 2 years in the making, was made in efforts to work towards “re-correcting the canon.” To also mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment in 2020. The initiative is part of the BMA’s ongoing implementation of its broader vision to address race and gender diversity gaps within the museum field, and to represent more fully and deeply the spectrum of individuals that have shaped the trajectory of art, their statement says.
The decision came about under the leadership of women throughout the museum. The board of trustees is chaired by Clair Zamoiski Segal and Asma Naeem is chief curator.
The BMA’s move was warmly received by activists who were pushing for greater diversity in the art world for decades.”There are so many women who ought to be honored and known,” said longtime women’s art advocate Cindy Nemser. “I say it’s a beginning. Imagine if this had happened in 1972.”
Elissa Blount Moorhead, an artist whose work will be exhibited at the BMA, hopes that a major change will renew museums’ importance in the 21st century.
“I’m hoping that all of us can start to think about how patriarchy and hierarchy has really diminished people’s interest in museums and cultural centers,” Moorhead said. “This will enliven your audience. It’s just the right thing to do.”