Museum art collections are very masculine and very white | Museums

IIf all the artists in major American museums were represented by 100 people, 88 of them would be men. A large-scale study looked at major US museum collections and found that only 12% of artists in their collections are women.

Data from the Tate galleries suggests that UK institutions are not doing much better. Only 15% of artists in the Tate’s permanent collection were women when they shared this Data in 2014. To be generous with the Tate, things have gotten better. Looking at the artist’s year of birth, a slow change appears in the collection.

A painting of all the artists in the Tate’s permanent collection. The ascending blue line shows the emergence of women in the collection. Illustration: Mona Chalabi

To show this slow progression, I created a dripping. The paint ratio is 5.5 to 1 to reflect the fact that the Tate still has 5.5 men to 1 woman in its collection. The colors chosen here (orange for men, blue for women) are based on the to work by Martin Bellander, who analyzed thousands of paintings and noticed that they were once dominated by oranges but blues are increasingly being used.

A painting on the Tate Paintings
A painting on the Tate paintings. Photography: Mona Chalabi

The US study looked at race and ethnicity as well as gender. Researchers have found that 75% of all artists in major US museums are white males. But Asian men were even more overrepresented; they represent 8% of all artists in major American collections, a proportion more than double their share of the population.

The least represented group in the American artistic world are women of color. We represent only 1% of all artists in major collections despite the fact that we represent 20% of the American population.

This is a museum illustration with 11 white women and 1 Asian woman drawn.
Women represent only 12% of the collections of major American art museums. Illustration: Mona Chalabi
Men represent 88% of the collections of major American art museums
Men represent 88% of the collections of major American art museums Photography: Mona Chalabi
This is an illustration of a museum space containing all the figures that represent the total population of the United States.
Many women and people of color are potentially missing from art museum collections. Illustration: Mona Chalabi

the study, published by math professor Chad Topaz, and his colleagues examined 18 major US museum collections to reach their conclusions. They were:

  • Chicago Art Institute

  • Dallas Museum of Art

  • Denver Art Museum

  • Detroit Institute of the Arts

  • Top Art Museum

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Museum of Modern Art

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

  • modern Art Museum

  • National Art Gallery

  • Nelson Atkins Museum of Art

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art

  • Rhode Island School of Design Museum

  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

  • Whitney Museum of American Art

  • Yale University Art Gallery.

This work was originally created as part of the exhibition Who Are You Here to have? exhibited at the Zari Gallery, London until May 23. Yuri Avila provided an additional factverification.