A recent data survey of the permanent collections of 18 prominent art museums in the US found that out of over 10,000 artists, 87% are male, and 85% are white (Public Library of Science).
A 2015 special issue of ARTnews on “Women in the Art World” featured a report by curator Maura Reilly revealing a huge gender disparity in solo exhibitions, with few major institutions even reaching 30%.
The Art Newspaper reported that of 590 major exhibitions by nearly 70 institutions in the US from 2007–2013, only 27% were devoted to women artists.
The disparity is not only a gendered one. In the eye-popping survey of the works in the collections of all major US museums, researchers found 9.0% were made by Asian artists, 2.8% Hispanic/Latinx and just 1.2% by Black artists, the lowest share of any race.
With great pride, the Art Collections Department housed in Wilkinson College is beginning to see their labors of the past few years begin to bear fruit. Today, over half of new acquisitions by Art Collections were made by women artists, and about 30% by people from underrepresented populations–which is well above almost all other museums or university collections.
This lead was no accident: Director of the Department of Art Collections Lindsay Shen writing,
“[The] Art Collections Department made a very deliberate choice to take a critical look at the range of artists in our collection and thoughtfully acquire works that at least start to address the inequity. Many of our museum colleagues are, in general, aware of the historic inequity, and I feel that The Art Collections is part of a wider movement to address this. Being small and nimble, we’ve been able to achieve our success in a relatively short period of time.”
New to Art Collections is an eMuseum site by Gallery Systems. As Registrar of Art Collections Jessica Bocinski writes in the Art Collections blog,
eMuseum is a web publishing software specifically designed for museums, and created to seamlessly integrate with standard museum Collections Management Software (C.M.S) to create dynamic digital exhibitions. This means that all the information and research in our C.M.S. that Art Collections staff, student workers, volunteers, and collaborators have worked to build up over the years is now accessible for all to enjoy!
Not only will the community at large now be able to enjoy the collection with ease. The introduction of eMuseum brings the revolutionary work being done by Art Collections in recognizing and acting on the current disparities in art collections nationwide to the class projects, student and faculty research, student engagement, and community outreach that Art Collections supports at Chapman University. These efforts are, and will continually be, fundamentally improved as Art Collections dedicates itself further to advancing the voices and works of the underrepresented into contemporary conversations of art and art collections unlike any other in the nation.
Pictured Above: Elizabeth Turk, Infinite Realities Science/Nature/Art, lenticular photograph mounted on aluminum, 2018. Purchased by Chapman University. Keck Hall, Floor 1.
Pictured Below: Works by Julie Shafer, Maya Freelon, Bovey Lee, Mary Corse, Mark Bradford, Patrick Martinez, Ken Gonzales. Purchased by Chapman University.