National Portrait Gallery is a museum that houses a vast collection of portraits of notable figures from the United Kingdom. The gallery seeks to celebrate the achievements of the people depicted in its portraits and inspire its visitors to appreciate the diversity and richness of British history and culture. However, if one examines the gallery’s collection more closely, it becomes apparent that there is a severe lack of female representation in the post-1900 exhibition. In this article, I will discuss the need to double the number of women on the walls of National Portrait Gallery and how such an initiative would contribute to the gallery’s mission of fostering diversity and inclusivity.
The post-1900 exhibition of National Portrait Gallery is home to over 160 portraits of prominent individuals who have made significant contributions to British society in various fields such as politics, arts, science, and sports. However, only 20% of these portraits represent women. This lack of female representation is a problem not only because it fails to reflect the reality of our society but also because it perpetuates the idea that women’s achievements are not as significant or noteworthy as men’s. The under-representation of women in National Portrait Gallery is a reflection of the broader cultural and social attitudes that marginalize women and limit their opportunities for success and visibility. It is crucial, therefore, that we take steps to address this issue and strive towards gender equality and inclusivity in all aspects of our society, including our cultural institutions.
One way that National Portrait Gallery can tackle this problem is by launching an initiative to double the number of women on the walls of the post-1900 exhibition. This would involve commissioning new portraits of female figures in various fields, including those who have been historically overlooked or marginalized due to their gender or other identities. The gallery could also acquire new works by contemporary female artists and curate exhibitions dedicated to highlighting women’s achievements and contributions to British society. This initiative would not only address the lack of female representation in the gallery’s current collection but also provide an opportunity to showcase the diversity and richness of talent among British women.
To ensure the success of this initiative, it is crucial that National Portrait Gallery involve and collaborate with women from diverse backgrounds, including Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) women, disabled women, and LGBTQ+ women. The gallery should seek to communicate with these groups and consult them on the selection of female figures to be featured in the collection and the artists to be commissioned for the new portraits. By involving women from diverse backgrounds in the initiative, the gallery can guarantee that the collection represents and celebrates the full spectrum of British women’s experiences and achievements.
Another key aspect of this initiative would be to address the bias and systemic barriers that have historically prevented women from achieving the same success and recognition as men in various fields. This would involve not only featuring established female figures but also highlighting emerging talents and providing platforms for them to showcase their work. It would also involve creating an inclusive and supportive environment within the gallery that encourages and nurtures women artists and accepts diverse voices and perspectives.
National Portrait Gallery’s initiative to double the number of women on the walls of the post-1900 exhibition is not only crucial but also timely. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the need to tackle gender inequality in all aspects of our lives, from the workplace to the arts and media. By taking a proactive and visible stance on this issue, National Portrait Gallery can contribute to this broader movement towards gender equality and social justice. It can also inspire other cultural institutions to follow suit and adopt inclusive and diverse practices that celebrate women’s achievements and promote gender equality.
In conclusion, the under-representation of women in National Portrait Gallery’s post-1900 exhibition is a problem that needs urgent attention. By launching an initiative to double the number of women on the walls of the collection, the gallery can not only address this issue but also promote inclusivity and diversity in all aspects of our society. It is time for National Portrait Gallery to take this bold step and provide a platform for women’s achievements and contributions to British history and culture.