Not just Artemisia… women artists at the Ashmolean Museum

Engaging with the Humanities

Creating the climate for change, as part of International Woman's Day.

Every once in a while, the art world becomes very excited about the great Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi - yet the broad under-representation of women artists in museum collections remains a challenge of long-standing with no easy solution.

For a museum like the Ashmolean, whose budget for acquisitions is small and whose collections have historically been invested in a canon from which women were to a great extent excluded, this is a difficult situation to change. And yet, as a university museum, teaching into a curriculum that seeks to address precisely such questions of gender inequity, it is vital that we do so.

Recently, then, the museum has made significant additions to its holdings of women artists - and none of them is Artemisia Gentileschi.

This talk will discuss both these new treasures and some hidden highlights in the Ashmolean’s existing holdings, looking at objects ranging from silversmiths’ work to prints, and from paintings to bronze sculpture, and considering how they can be put to work across a University landscape in which the Museum is increasingly sought out by women scholars as a resource for teaching and research.


Jim Harris, Teaching Curator and male ally, Ashmolean Museum.