Museum  November 27, 2019  Chandra Noyes

Baltimore Museum of Art to Only Collect Female Artists in 2020

Mirto Hood

Baltimore Museum of Art

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has announced a radical new plan to make their museum and its collection more inclusive. As part of their 2020 Vision strategic plan, the museum will only purchase and exhibit works by women artists for all of 2020.

© 2019 Catlett Mora Family Trust/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Elizabeth Catlett, Domestic Worker, 1946. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchased as the gift of Lorraine and Mark Schapiro, Baltimore, BMA 1997.20.

2020 Vision includes 13 solo exhibitions and seven thematic shows, the first of which are already on display. By Their Creative Force: American Women Modernists covers the major art movements of the 20th century, highlighting the contributions of female artists like Elizabeth Catlett and Georgia O'Keeffe. Another work recently debuted is a large-scale installation by contemporary artist Mickalene Thomas, which transforms the museum’s lobby into a brightly colored living room, welcoming the Baltimore community.

Other planned exhibitions include a retrospective devoted to the work of Joan Mitchell. Covering the artist’s entire career beginning with her Abstract Expressionist work in the 1950s, Joan Mitchell: Fierce Beauty will be the first major U.S retrospective of the artist in 18 years. Ana Mendieta, Howardena Pindell, Tschabalala Self, and Lisa Yuskavage, among other artists, will also be highlighted.

The BMA has a diverse collection of 95,000 objects, of which nearly 3,800 works were created by 1,050 women artists and designers. The “crown jewel” of the museum’s holdings is the Cone Collection of modern art. Amassed by Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta Cone, who developed personal relationships with artists like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, the collection of nearly 3,000 objects put the BMA on the map.

© The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Georgia O'Keeffe, Pink Tulip, 1926. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Mabel Garrison Siemonn, in Memory of her Husband, George Siemonn, BMA 1964.11.13.

In 2018, the museum made waves when they announced their decision to sell off valuable pieces from their collection. Works by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and others were auctioned by Sotheby’s in order to raise funds to buy art from a more diverse range of artists. This move was viewed as radical by many, and along with the initiatives of 2020 Vision, show the BMA’s commitment to changing both their museum and the field in general.

“The BMA’s 2020 Vision initiative serves to recognize the voices, narratives, and creative innovations of a range of extraordinarily talented women artists. The goal for this effort is to rebalance the scales and to acknowledge the ways in which women’s contributions still do not receive the scholarly examination, dialogue, and public acclaim that they deserve,” said Christopher Bedford, BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director.

2020 Vision coincides with the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women in the U.S. the right to vote.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra Noyes is Managing Editor for Art & Object.

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