August 8, 2019

White Cubes: Do Exhibitions at U.S. Museums Reflect Calls for Diversity?

By Alex Greenberger

In 1987, for a conference at Hunter College in New York, artist Howardena Pindell surveyed the racial demographics of artists receiving exhibitions at museums across the city. Her findings were bleak—the exhibition programs, according to her survey, were almost entirely white. “Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American artists are, therefore, with a few, very few, exceptions, systematically excluded,” she wrote in her introduction. In tribute to Pindell’s 1987 survey, ARTnews surveyed every solo exhibition held at 30 museums across America over the past decade and broke them down by race. ARTnews’s findings are similar to Pindell’s. Still today, amid increasing calls for diversity in the art world, the exhibition programming at U.S. institutions is, on average, overwhelmingly white.