Davenport, Iowa (Thursday, July 15) – The Figge Art Museum unveiled seven new acquisitions at an invitation-only event at the museum on Thursday evening. A newly created Art Diversity and Equity Fund intended to combat the systemic inequality in the art world was also announced and is being initially funded by a lead gift from locals Jim and Michelle Russell.
According to a 2019 published research journal by the Public Library of Science, the diversity of artists in major U.S. museums illustrates the urgent need to focus on collecting and preserving the works of artists from marginalized communities. The study found that 85.4% of the works in the collections of all major US museums were made by white artists, and 87.4% are by men. African American artists have the lowest share with just 1.2% of the works; Asian artists total at 9%; and Hispanic and Latino artists constitute only 2.8% of the artists.
The Figge is thrilled to unveil impressive new acquisitions by artists Kehinde Wiley, Edward Bannister, Elizabeth Catlett, and others that will make their debut in the Figge’s Quad City Bank & Trust Grand Lobby now through July 22, 2021.
Figge Executive Director and CEO Michelle Hargrave said, “In an effort to make the permanent collection at the Figge more representative of the community, 98% of our acquisition dollars from the past year were spent on works by artists from marginalized communities.”
As part of this initiative, the Art Diversity and Equity Fund is exclusively dedicated to the acquisition and preservation of artworks for the Figge’s permanent collection that represent artists from underserved and marginalized groups. The underserved and marginalized groups that this fund will impact are Black artists, artists of African, Native American, Hispanic, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous and Middle Eastern descent as well as works from women, LBGTQA+, and any other artists that are subsequently identified as marginalized, oppressed, or underrepresented in the museum’s permanent collection.
Active community members and Figge supporters Jim and Michelle Russell of Davenport have generously contributed to launch the Figge’s Art Diversity and Equity Fund with a $20,000 donation. They are encouraging community members to consider contributing any amount to this fund so their contribution can be matched and ultimately exceeded dollar-for-dollar allowing the Figge to reach the goal of raising $100,000 this year.
“Jim and I feel strongly about this initiative in general, and feel it is important for our community to have a museum that focuses on representing all people, voices, and perspectives,” said Michelle Russell. “It is our hope that others will consider stepping forward in all ways to build an all-inclusive reality in our community, and specifically to donating to this important fund designed to help the Figge continue to promote inclusivity.”
“Battling inequality in art has been a focus for the Figge for over a decade. “We are dedicated to presenting exhibitions featuring a myriad of voices and diverse perspectives, providing opportunities for dialogue around important societal issues, including racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia,” says Hargrave. “Through these efforts, we have made some progress, including increasing the number of female artists represented in our collection from 4% to 10% over the last several years, but we realize that we have a long way to go. This fund supports our commitment to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive museum.”
The Figge continues to focus on artistic excellence in exhibitions and programming that ignite the important conversations among participants about art and beyond that is more representative of all people.
“It is a priority for the museum to continue to pursue works by underrepresented artists and we are extremely grateful to Jim and Michelle for being the leader in helping us to better represent all voices,” said Figge Director of Development Sara Volz. “We hope that others in the community recognize the impact of this fund and join Jim and Michelle by making a donation in support of this cause.”
Thanks to the support of Cal and Jill Werner, admission to the museum during the month of July is free. Plan a visit to see the new acquisitions and current exhibitions now on view.
About the Figge Art Museum:
The Figge Art Museum is dedicated to bringing art and people together. Located on the Mississippi River in downtown Davenport at 225 West Second Street, the Figge is the premier art exhibition and education facility between Chicago and Des Moines. Its landmark glass building, designed by British architect David Chipperfield, is home to one of the Midwest’s finest art collections and presents world-class exhibitions, art classes, lectures, and special events that attract visitors of all ages. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Thursdays; and 12-5 p.m. on Sundays. Reservations are not required, but can be made at www.figgeartmuseum.org or by calling 563-345-6632. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors and students with ID and $4 children ages 4-12. Admission is free to Figge members and institutional members and to all on Thursday evenings. You can become a member for as little as $50 by visiting the Figge website. The Figge Café is open for lunch Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-2 p.m. To contact the museum, please call 563.326.7804, or visit www.figgeartmuseum.org.