National Museum Calls on Twitter to Highlight Women in the Arts

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Womens-museum

Niki de Saint Phalle Sculptures in front of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NWMA) / Elvert Barnes

February 15, 2016, Observer.com

Quick—name five female painters, sculptors, or photographers. Struggling? The National Museum of Women in the Arts wants to change that, and is using social media to ask its followers to pitch in.

The NWMA, based in Washington, D.C., is heading up a hashtag campaign asking its followers to learn about five female artisans. The hashtag #5womenartists is set to start on March 1st, but a quick Twitter search shows that some users have already deployed it. The museum will share information on influential women artists through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook during March, which is Women’s History Month. An array of other art institutions—the Brooklyn Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the Guggenheim, and several others—will do the same.

Women artists are often less well known than their male counterparts, and #5womenartists is intended to encourage users to learn more. The hashtag will also be in use during the third annual Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. The yearly event will be held on March 5th at the Museum of Modern Art, with satellite edit-a-thons taking place at over one hundred locations, including the NMWA, Tate Britain, Les Archives Nationales in Paris, and a slew of other art museums and universities. Each year, volunteers create new Wikipedia entries covering female and artists and feminist scholars. NPQ covered the first and second edit-a-thons; 2015’s brought in 1,500 volunteers and 334 new Wikipedia articles.

NPQ has previously covered the National Museum of Women in the Arts for some of its innovative campaigns. The museum, founded in 1987, aims to educate the public about female artists, but it doesn’t stop at piquing public curiosity. Last year, NMWA launched a campaign encouraging art curators to seek out, purchase, and commission more art by female artists. Another NMWA hashtag campaign, #nmwagetlocal, encourages Twitter and Facebook followers to “get local” and report on the ratio of artwork by female artists at their local art institutions. These campaigns, just like the Art + Feminism Edit-a-Thons, take social media to the next level by creating meaningful calls to action. Instead of simply placing a bid for likes or retweets, NWMA asks users to contribute to the discussion—by asking them to share what they know and to keep learning.—Lauren Karch