The invisibility cloak: Unveiling the Absence of Women Artists in the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea

Emília Ferreira, Joana d’Oliva Monteiro, Sílvia Prazeres Moreira

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In this chapter the authors apply a feminist quantitative approach to exhibitions in the art museums of Portugal. Through the practice of feminist counting in terms of what it is that we actually see, and conversely what we do not see, the authors illustrate that, despite years of feminist critique and lobbying for change, the work and stories of women artists remain shrouded behind what they call an “invisibility cloak” that naturalises a masculine aesthetic world. They argue that a major challenge is that many women curators and educators across Portugal and in the Museu Nacional continue to act as purveyors of patriarchy by becoming complicit in the promotion of the hegemonic male order, which the authors’ statistical analysis portrays. To counter these deeply woven masculinised constructs of art and artistic practice, the authors call for more feminist informed curatorial practices, on-site educational training, and new communication strategies that can re-imagine the museum into a visual and structural aesthetic of gender justice and change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFeminist Critique and the Museum
Subtitle of host publicationEducating for a Critical Consciousness
EditorsKathy Sanford, Darlene E. Clover, Nancy Taber, Sarah Williamson
Place of PublicationLeiden / Boston
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-44018-0
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-44017-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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