Back by Popular Demand: Can You Name Five Women Artists? Hundreds of Museums Spotlight Women's History Month

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  • March 01, 2017

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Shown in "Border Crossing" at NMWA. Jami Porter Lara, LDS-MHB-3SBR-0916CE-01, 2016; Pit-fired clay, 16 x 8 in. diameter; Courtesy Central Features Contemporary Art; Photo by Addison Doty

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to celebrating the creative contributions of women, is launching the second year of its acclaimed #5WomenArtists social media campaign. NMWA’s year-round mission is to address gender inequalities in the art world, but every March—Women’s History Month—the museum has an opportunity to garner the attention of a wider audience to celebrate women artists. Starting March 1 and using the hashtag #5WomenArtists, the museum will challenge social media users to answer a question: “Can you name five women artists?”

“Due to popular demand, we are continuing to ask, ‘Can you name five women artists?’” says NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “It’s a simple question with a not-so-simple answer. Women artists have not received their due from our institutional and educational systems. Our goal is to reinforce the numerous conversations we have sparked around the globe about gender parity in the arts.”

Last March, nearly 400 art museums, libraries and galleries from 20 countries shared their favorite women artists, and more than 11,000 individuals joined in. NMWA greatly increased its social media reach, including raising its Instagram followers by 140 percent. Drawing on the enthusiasm generated by the first campaign, more than 150 institutions from 41 states, 16 countries and five continents have already signed on as contributors in 2017, and many institutions are planning to link the #5WomenArtists campaign to their Women’s History Month programming.

Participating national institutions include: American Alliance of Museums; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Broad and Hammer Museum, California; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Walker Art Center, Minnesota; Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, MoMA PS1, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Jewish Museum, New York; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas; Seattle Art Museum, Washington; and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Gallery of Art and National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C. Participating international organizations include: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia; Royal Ontario Museum, Canada; Städel Museum, Germany; Yad Vashem, Israel; Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico; Guggenheim Bilbao and Reina Sofía, Spain; Nationalmuseum, Sweden; Musées d’art et d’histoire Genève, Switzerland; and Tate Britain, Tate Modern and Whitechapel Gallery, United Kingdom.

This year, to enhance the campaign, NMWA is partnering with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, and Balboa Park in San Diego, California. Albright-Knox’s fourth annual #ArtMadness competition based on the NCAA’s March Madness bracket system—which asks fans to vote for their favorite artworks from museums—will highlight the importance of female artists. Artwork from NMWA’s collection will constitute one-fourth of the “bracket.” With a focus on parks and nature, Balboa Park will celebrate women in arts and culture by inviting organizations, artists and photographers to “takeover” its Instagram account (@BalboaPark). NMWA will post works in its collection for one day during the week-long, multi-host takeover.

In addition, NMWA is working closely with Google Arts & Culture, which highlights works from more than 1,000 museums across the world. In March, the museum will have added an additional 100 images to the Google Arts & Culture platform. Images and educational materials on the Google Arts & Culture platform are used in museums and classrooms around the world, providing a way for visitors to explore artworks they may never have the chance to see in person.

Women’s History Month events at NMWA include:
#5WomenArtists Scavenger Hunt Daily in March Can you name five women artists? This scavenger hunt challenges players to explore NMWA’s collection and snap a picture. Share your answers on Instagram, tag @WomenInTheArts and include #5WomenArtists.

Wikipedia Edit-a-thon 2017—Art+Feminism: Women in the Arts Workshop Saturday, March 11, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Celebrate Women’s History Month and help us improve Wikipedia articles about women artists. The lack of female participation has contributed to the absence of notable women on Wikipedia.

FRESH TALK: Ann Hamilton and Emily Pilloton—How can makers change the world? Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 7–9:30 p.m. Ann Hamilton, an internationally-renowned visual artist and self-described maker, joins Emily Pilloton, designer, builder, educator, author and founder of the nonprofit design agency Project H Design, to talk about the relevance of hands-on learning and how the experience of making things can inspire the next generation of innovators and creative change makers.

Current Exhibitions and Installations:

Border Crossing: Jami Porter Lara February 17–May 14, 2017 Border Crossing presents recent work by Albuquerque-based artist Jami Porter Lara (b. 1969), who hand-builds and pit-fires clay sculptures resembling a ubiquitous icon of modern life—the plastic bottle. Finding both ancient pottery shards and recently discarded plastic bottles along the U.S.–Mexico border inspired Porter Lara to reconsider the bottle as a “contemporary artifact.”
New Ground: The Southwest of Maria Martinez and Laura Gilpin February 17–May 14, 2017
Chromatic Scale: Prints by Polly Apfelbaum March 10–July 2, 2017
Bold Broadsides and Bitsy Books November 21, 2016–March 17, 2017, in the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center Open Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–12 p.m. and 1–5 p.m.
From the Desk of Simone de Beauvoir January 6–June 2, 2017; Installation presented by NMWA’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center.

For more information about NMWA, visit

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