Under the leadership of director Christopher Bedford, the Baltimore Museum of Art has made strides towards diversifying its collection. In 2018, the institution sparked a controversy when it deaccessioned works by white male artists like Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Franz Kline, and used proceeds from those sales to purchase pieces by Charles Gaines, Emma Amos, Faith Ringgold, Ana Mendieta, and other artists of color and women artists.
As part of those ongoing efforts, the BMA has revealed that it will only acquire artworks by women in 2020. The Baltimore Sun reports that this policy will apply to works of all mediums obtained through either purchase or donation in 2020.
“You don’t just purchase one painting by a female artist of color and hang it on the wall next to a painting by Mark Rothko,” Bedford told the newspaper. “To rectify centuries of imbalance, you have to do something radical.”
The institution’s “2020 Vision” program, which comprises 22 exhibitions and marks the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment (granting the vote to women), will also focus on women artists. Presentations will spotlight Joan Mitchell, Mickalene Thomas, Ana Mendieta, and more figures, while other shows will be organized thematically, with subjects ranging from depictions of motherhood in African art to beaded works made by Lakota women in the 19th century.
The BMA acquired its first work by a woman artist in 1916, two years after its establishment. But just 3,800 of the 95,000 pieces in its permanent holdings today were made by women artists.