The MoMA is Renovating to Include More Minority Artists

Content warning: brief mention of sexual assault.

New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, or more colloquially called the MoMA, is closing up for four months this summer as it undergoes a renovation. According to a recent New York Times article, the $400 million dollar redesign includes a new 40,000 square feet of space dedicated specifically to female artists and people of color. Its galleries will rotate a selection of art every six to nine months, and it will reopen with a survey of Latin American artists and exhibitions of two African American artists.

The Studio Museum in Harlem, an art museum devoted to African American artists, is currently under construction and is also partnering with the MoMA. Other new features will include a two-story studio for arts such as performance and music, a second floor platform for visitors to talk and create art, extended houses, and a redesigned museum store and lobby.

The question is, what does the MoMA’s choice say about the way our world, particularly Western world, views modern art? According to a Bustle article, women make up 60-75% of art students, yet they rarely make up more than 30% of the artists displayed in museums and galleries. Can you name more than a handful of artists from Asia or Africa?

Though the iconic Guerrilla Girls artwork above is part of the Tate museum in London, not the MoMA, it remains illustrative of the gender gap in the modern art world. While it’s no longer the custom to torture female painters with screws and marry them off when they speak out about their sexual assault (see Artemisia Gentileschi, a Baroque era painter), the art world needs to be better about amplifying the voices of minorities. Considering the reputation of contemporary art to be political, progressive and even outrageous, it’s important to uplift art created by minorities, which often has political and progressive themes.

Hopefully, MoMA’s emphasis on minority artists will offer a more diverse, multicultural perspective of modern art. MoMA’s reconfiguration of its galleries is a definite step forward, and I’m incredibly excited to see what lies ahead.

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