Detail from Agnolo Bronzino, St. Sebastian, c.1533, which will feature in the Royal Academy's upcoming exhibition. © Museo Nacional Thyssen- Bornemisza, Madrid

Should quotas be introduced to ensure gender parity in exhibitions?

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 05.09.2018
Royal Academy exhibition will feature male and female nudes in equal number
The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) in London has announced that its upcoming exhibition, The Renaissance Nude, will feature an equal split of works depicting men and women.

Opening in March next year, the exhibition will include paintings, sculptures and drawings of nudes by Renaissance masters such as Titian, Raphael and Michaelangelo.

In addition to quotas for subject matter, the RA has also strived to ensure a gender balance among the curators and scholars who worked on the exhibition.

The academy’s artistic director, Tim Marlow, said the exhibition would examine historic differences in the way male and female bodies are portrayed, the Telegraph reports.

It is the first time the academy has introduced a gender quota for its exhibitions, and other upcoming RA exhibitions will not be subject to the same requirements.

The RA’s decision reflects longstanding criticism by feminist campaigners about the representation of women in art. An infamous 1980s poster by the Guerilla Girls, since acquired by Tate, asked: “Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into the Met. Museum?”

Although the RA exhibition was conceived three years ago, it also comes at a time when cultural institutions are reassessing their past treatment and representation of women in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.  

So should more museums and galleries introduce quotas to ensure gender parity in exhibitions? Vote in our poll and have your say.