WASHINGTON—520 national and international cultural institutions from seven continents and 30 countries participated in the second year of the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ (NMWA) acclaimed #5WomenArtists social media campaign, which has just been awarded a 2017 American Alliance of Museums’ MUSE Award for outstanding achievement in media. NMWA, the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to celebrating women artists, champions women in the arts all year long, but in March, during Women’s History Month, the museum has an even greater opportunity to celebrate women artists.
The social media campaign began with a simple idea: If you ask someone to name five artists, they will likely name prominent male artists, but how many people can list five women artists? Using the hashtag #5WomenArtists, NMWA launched the campaign March 1 on its website and blog as well as on the social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The museum invited cultural organizations and individual art lovers to share information on social media about women artists throughout the month. The campaign inspired a discussion on gender imbalance in the presentation of art both in the United States and internationally.
In addition to the 520 cultural institutions, more than 10,000 individuals joined the campaign to promote women artists, garnering more than 4,500 Instagram posts and more than 17,500 tweets. More than 80 individuals and cultural organizations created their own blog posts, and NMWA’s introductory blog post was read almost 4,750 times. This worldwide initiative welcomed participating organizations from Antarctica, Australia, Chile, Mexico, Israel, South Africa and Switzerland, among others.
“We are thrilled with the increased number of participating organizations for this year’s #5WomenArtists campaign,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “We thank all of the cultural organizations and social media users who joined us in this initiative, and offer a special thanks to the institutions that created their own #5WomenArtists on-site programming. By helping spark conversations around the globe about gender parity in the arts, we and many others have collaborated to increase awareness of this important issue.”
NMWA shared information about women artists, including biographies, quotes, infographics and statistics tagged with #5WomenArtists, and asked other organizations to join them in highlighting work by women in their collections and exhibitions. NMWA hit the streets of Washington, D.C, with “Frida Kahlo,” asking people if they could name five women artists. The short, fun video helps to explain the need for the #5WomenArtists campaign, and it was watched almost 800 times. In addition, NMWA launched a BuzzFeed quiz on March 27 called “Which of these 5 Women Artists are you? (Part 2)” Nearly 500 people viewed the quiz with many posting their results on social media.
Among the numerous participating institutions were the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and Walker Art Center, Minnesota; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and J. Paul Getty Museum, California; the National Portrait Gallery, Tate and Whitechapel Gallery, United Kingdom; the Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain; the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia; the Museo De Arte Moderno de Barranquilla, Colombia; the Antarctic Biennale, Antarctica and the Museo Nactional de Arte, Mexico.
Many organizations included #5WomenArtists in their own Women’s History Month programming:
- Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s (Buffalo, NY) fourth annual #ArtMadness competition based on the NCAA’s March Madness bracket system—which asks fans to vote for their favorite artworks from museums—highlighted the importance of women artists.
- The Royal British Columbia Museum (Victoria, B.C., Canada) hosted a museum happy hour event highlighting contemporary First Nations artists, including Marianne Nicolson, an accomplished woman Dzawada̱’enux̱w artist.
- With a focus on nature, Balboa Park (San Diego, CA) celebrated women in the arts by inviting organizations, artists and photographers to “takeover” its Instagram account, @BalboaPark.
- The Columbus Museum of Art (Columbus, OH) featured Collective Voices Guide by Cell in the galleries, Women Artists Tours and during its Open Studios in March visitors created art inspired by five women artists from their collection.
- The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art (Charleston, SC) invited five women artists from their state to talk about their experiences at a public program called Halsey Talks: 5 Women Artists.
- North-West University Gallery (Potchefstroom, South Africa) put the spotlight on works of female artists, as well as on the works by women that the NWU has in its art collection.
- The Manor View Elementary School (Fort Meade, MD) created a #5WomenArtists “Celebrating Women in Arts” bulletin board, asking their students to fill in their favorite women artists.
- #5WomenArtists inspired other social media hashtags including #5WomenScientists, #5WomenArchitects and #5ArtistasMujeres.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts
The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to celebrating the creative contributions of women. The museum champions women through the arts by collecting, exhibiting, researching and creating programs that advocate for equity and shine a light on excellence. NMWA highlights remarkable women artists of the past while also promoting the best women artists working today. The museum’s collection includes over 4,700 works by more than 1,000 women artists from the 16th century to the present, including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Alma Thomas, Lee Krasner, Louise Bourgeois, Chakaia Booker and Nan Goldin.
NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., in a landmark building near the White House. It is open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, noon–5 p.m. For information, call 202-783-5000 or visit nmwa.org. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for visitors 65 and over and students, and free for NMWA members and youths 18 and under. Free Community Days take place on the first Sunday of each month. For more information about NMWA, visit nmwa.org, Broad Strokes Blog, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.