Baltimore Museum of Art Leads a Rebalancing of Representation

By CultureBanx Team

  • Baltimore Museum of Art sold seven pieces in its collection
  • The museum used the proceeds to purchase works by artists of color

The Baltimore Museum of Art is rebalancing its permanent collection by selling seven pieces where they’ve had a deep representation in their collection in order to build enough capital to purchase works by artists of color. The museum is trying to rebalance systematic underrepresentation of black artists in its collection. What does this mean for the strategy other museums have in developing their collections?

Why This Matters: The contemporary art market is waking up to the strength of African American artists posthumously or who are developing work now. The recent purchase of Kerry James Marshall’s “Past Times” for $21 million shifted the market and further highlighted the increased competitiveness of the market. Collections have not typically held these sorts of works and are facing the reality that the art world isn’t made up entirely of white male artists.

Traditionally, collections have been driven by a relatively small network of dealers and galleries. They may or may not have networks that give them access to black artists. That is pushing collections to expand their networks to get a better finger on the pulse of who’s next in the art world. To increase their effectiveness at this, museums may to asses their staffing to ensure they have people who have broad networks that include artists who have been historically excluded from museums’ collections.

Situational Awareness: The Baltimore Museum of Art’s strategy for including more people of color in its permanent collection did not go without controversy. Look out for whether other museums decide to make similar moves with their collections.

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