Press Release

PAFA Recognized as a Pioneer in Collecting Art by Women

PHILADELPHIA (October 30, 2019) -- A new study published jointly by Artnet News and In Other Words has concluded that The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) ranks first among 26 major American art institutions in the percentage of museum acquisitions by female artists over the past decade.

58% of PAFA's permanent collection acquisitions over the past decade have been art created by women. The national average for acquisitions of art by women over the same time period, based upon the major institutions surveyed, was 11%. In 2018 alone, PAFA added 288 works by women to its world-renowned collection of American art. In 2020, PAFA's exhibitions program will be focused on female artists, continuing an institutional tradition of supporting women artists that can be traced back to its founding, over 200 years ago.

David Brigham, President and CEO, said, "For our visitors, for our students, and for all the communities that PAFA serves, it is our responsibility to tell the story of American art in a way that reflects all of its complexity and diversity of thought. Women artists, both historical and contemporary, are an essential part of that story. PAFA's commitment to collecting and exhibiting art by women has strengthened us as an institution, and prioritizing gender and ethnic diversity in our collection allows us to provide significant educational impact for the public, and for emerging generations of fine artists."

This study follows another In Other Words / Artnet News study from 2018, which concluded that, over the preceding decade, PAFA was among the top art institutions surveyed in terms of the percentage of its acquired artworks that were by African American artists. PAFA is a national leader in exhibiting and supporting African American artists, as well as artists of other backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented in the traditional canon of American art.

Brooke Davis Anderson, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum, said, "Art museums today have an obligation to dismantle the conventions of the centuries-old discipline of art history. American art institutions such as PAFA have a further obligation to expand and stretch the storied borders and real boundaries of our nation's history by supporting artists who have historically been excluded from museums and shining light on the powerful, necessary stories their artwork tells. These may be new stories in museum settings, but they are familiar to our publics, and this is the work that will resonate most strongly with our diverse audiences throughout Philadelphia."

Last Updated
October 30, 2019 - 1:16 PM

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.