MoMA has long been criticized for the collection’s stark gender imbalance. In a 2015 report exploring sexism in the art world, ARTnews reported
that just seven percent of the 410 works on view in the museum’s fourth- and fifth-floor galleries were by women. And that paltry total still represented a three percent increase from 2004, when the institution inaugurated its new, Yoshio Taniguchi-designed home with a rehang of its permanent collection.
Since 2005, with the entrance of philanthropist Sarah Peter, there has been a concerted effort to start addressing these issues. That year, Peter launched the Modern Women’s Fund at MoMA, an initiative operating out of the museum that targets work by women artists for acquisition and supports major solo exhibitions by women.
In 2010, with support from the fund, the museum published Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art. The book, which documents the history of women at MoMA, alerted readers to the fact that only 102 of the 2,052 exhibitions held at MoMA since 1929 focused specifically on women artists—95 solo shows and seven group shows.
Of course, adding women to the collection is a necessary first step in rewriting the narrative of modern art. But once women artists have ample representation in MoMA’s storehouses in Queens, the next step is to display them.