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Online Petition Challenges Morgan Library to ‘Only Exhibit Solo Shows by Women’ in 2020

An image from the petition.

COURTESY ELIZABETH MEGGS

Over the weekend, an online petition began circulating around the Twitter accounts of arts professionals, calling for the Morgan Library & Museum in New York to “ONLY exhibit solo shows by women in 2020.”

The petition was created by Brooklyn-based artist Elizabeth Meggs, who told ARTnews that she saw the institution’s exhibition schedule for 2019 includes only white male artists and decided to act. “I felt like I had a fever, and my hands were shaking,” Meggs said in an email. “I could not stop thinking about it. How could, and why would, a major institution like the Morgan only have solo shows by white men?”

Subjects of shows opening at the Morgan this year include William Hogarth, Walt Whitman, and John Singer Sargent.

Since publishing the petition, it has gained 112 signatures, and been shared on the Twitter accounts of critic Roberta Smith, author Tyler Green, and editor Cheryl B. Klein.

“It’s not like there are NOT many deserving and great authors, artists, composers, photographers, and more who are women, from diverse backgrounds,” Meggs said. “When esteemed and established arts institutions like the Morgan Library & Museum tell the world that only men deserve solo exhibitions, it deeply hurts the reputations of, and devalues the accomplishments by, women. When major institutions devalue women, it hurts the careers of living women artists both professionally and economically.”

When critic Jillian Steinhauer, writing on Twitter, noted the roster’s lack of diversity on Friday, the museum responded, “The scheduling of select traveling exhibitions has created a gender disparity in the 2019 cycle. We think you’ll be excited about what we have in store for 2020 and 2021. More on that later this year.”

ARTnews has asked the Morgan for comment on the petition and will update this post when we hear back.

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