Carolee Schneemann

Carolee Schneemann, Eye Body # 20, 1963 Acquired with funds from the Second Museum of our Wishes, Moderna Museet. © Carolee Schneemann/ Bildupphovsrätt 2016

Highlighting & The Second Museum of Our Wishes

For three years (2008-2010) Moderna Museet pursued a research project called “In the Shadow of. Women Modernists from a Gender-Oriented Art History Perspective” in Connection with Moderna Museet’s “Project The Second Museum of Our Wishes”, with support from the Swedish Arts Council’s R&D funding for national museums.

The purpose of the project was to research new acquisitions of works by women artists, including Louise Bourgeois, Dorothea Tanning, and Tora Vega Holmström, for the Moderna Museet collection.

Through this project, we developed a method by which we worked both internally with our staff, and externally with academia, other museums and the public. The project included a seminar series, Highlighting, and articles about the works and artists published on the Museum’s website.

The research project was pursued in close association with the ongoing exhibitions on Lee Lozano (2010), Mary Kelly (2010) and Siri Derkert (2011). In the Shadow of was covered in an article in the report Forskning vid museer, ed. Fredrik Svanberg (The Museum of National Antiquities, Stockholm Studies 19, Stockholm 2011, pp).

Post-Partum Document
Mary Kelly, Post-Partum Document: Documentation V, Classified Specimens, Proportional Diagrams, Statistical Tables, Research and Index, 1977 © Mary Kelly


“Highlighting” was a series of public seminars highlighting artists whose works had been acquired in connection with the Second Museum of Our Wishes initiative. “Highlighting” focused on Dorothea Tanning, Lee Lozano, Carolee Schneemann and Mary Kelly. One seminar was also held on “The Second Museum of Our Wishes”.

The Second Museum of Our Wishes

“The Second Museum of Our Wishes” was a project aimed at acquiring works by women artists for the older part of the Museum’s collection.

The title, “The Second Museum of Our Wishes”, paraphrased “The Museum of Our Wishes” (1963-64), an exhibition initiated by the Friends of Moderna Museet in the beginning of the 1960th. “The Museum of Our Wishes” was a call for the government to allocate funds for purchasing new works. The exhibition featured works from the collection alongside a “wish list” of works that were still available on the market. The request was acknowledged and the Museum received a one-off allocation of five million kronor, a substantial amount in today’s currency, which enabled the purchase of several works that now constitute the core of the collection. But the exhibition also laid the foundation for the collection’s gender imbalance; out of the 176 works that were shown, only three were by women artists, and all 36 works that were purchased for the collection were by male artists.

The Second Museum of Our Wishes, which focused exclusively on women artists, was aimed at highlighting this problem. In 2006, the Museum made a public request for another one-off allocation, this time for 50 million kronor, to celebrate the Museum’s 50th anniversary in 2008. This resulted in five million kronor from the government, and a further 37 million from private donations. Altogether, the Museum received some 42 million kronor earmarked for works by women artists.

At the conclusion of the project, the Museum had bought 26 works by 14 artists:

Louise Bourgeois, Judy Chicago, Susan Hiller, Tora Vega Holmström, Anna Kagan, Mary Kelly, Hilma af Klint, (through a deposit agreement), Barbara Kruger, Lee Lozano, Alice Neel, Lyubov Popova, Carolee Schneeman, Monica Sjöö and Dorothea Tanning.

Published 7 November 2015 · Updated 29 February 2024