Museums in the Nordic countries have a predominance of art created by men, a Danish survey shows

Male artists dominate galleries and museums

And it doesn’t look like this will change anytime soon, a survey shows.

It is no surprise that men have traditionally been given the most space in galleries.

But there is still a strong preponderance of the art exhibited made by men, the magazine Forskerforum recently wrote in an article (link in Norwegian).

The figures come from a Danish survey carried out by the Department of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen.

The survey looked at the 10 most visited museums in Denmark, but also several of the large museums in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. Additionally, 22 art galleries in Copenhagen were investigated.

A little more women in contemporary art

Museums and galleries with contemporary art generally had the highest proportion of female artists. But they were still in the minority.

The researchers found the highest proportion of female artists at two contemporary museums in Finland. The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Espoo Museum of Modern Art showcase 34 per cent female artist.

At the opposite end we find art created before the year 1900. Here, between 0.3 and 8 per cent of the artists were women.

Continue to buy art from men

It does not look like there will be an equal distribution anytime soon. The researchers behind the survey asked the various museums about the latest works in their collections.

All the Danish museums had bought a higher proportion of works of art created by men.

The Munch Museum in Norway stood out from the trend. Indeed, 99.9 per cent of the artworks there were created by men. But among the solo exhibitions there were mostly women.

Non-binary artists were also represented, Forskerforum writes.

Slightly more women took an art education

The results do not reflect how many female artists there are.

Researchers also investigated how many men and women studied art at the School of Visual Arts at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.

Between 2010 and 2020, slightly more women than men were admitted to this school. In 2015, it was almost evenly distributed. In 2020, six out of ten students were women.

Norwegian study found the same in 2020

In 2020, a similar survey was carried out at Norwegian museums. 115,000 works of art were mapped, the national broadcaster NRK wrote (link in Norwegian). One in ten public works was created by women.

The survey was commissioned by Tone Hansen – then director at Henie Onstad Art Center. She said that the museum had worked a lot on equality in the previous years. Nevertheless, they themselves came out poorly in the survey.

“We see that we have a much bigger job to do than what we have done up to today,” she told NRK.

The Danish survey also shows that men earn more than women when they sell their art. Arts and income was also the topic for a Norwegian study in 2018 (link in Norwegian). It found that female artists earned 27 per cent less than their male colleagues. When controlling for things such as age and education, female artist still earned 16 per cent less than men.


Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik.

Read the Norwegian version of this article on


Feminist Emergency: Women Artists in Denmark, 1960-Present, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen.


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