Locking art away
Christopher Groskopf, Museums are keeping the world’s art locked away, 20 January 2016
Most of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work is in storage. Nearly half of Pablo Picasso’s oil paintings are put away. Not a single Egon Schiele drawing is on display.
Since the advent of public galleries in the 17th century, museums have amassed huge collections of art for society’s benefit. But just a tiny fraction of that art is actually open for people to view and enjoy—including, it turns out, many works that are considered masterpieces. The dynamic raises questions about who actually benefits when museums collect so much of the world’s best art.
To paint a picture of these curatorial decisions, Quartz surveyed the holdings of 20 museums in 7 countries, focusing on the work of 13 major artists. In total, we collected data for 2,087 pieces of art. The statistics above are drawn from our survey, and here are the key results: