Major New Initiative to Support Female Artists in Public Collections Announced

12 June 2015 By
Valeria Napoleone. Photo: Michael Leckie

The Contemporary Art Society and Valeria Napoleone, in partnership with Camden Arts Centre, will launch a major new initiative in April 2016, supporting the acquisition of significant works by female artists for UK museums and taking a lead in redressing the gender imbalance in our public art collections*.

Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society is a joint initiative of philanthropist Valeria Napoleone and the Contemporary Art Society and will purchase and donate a significant work by a living female artist to a UK museum each year.

The initiative is open to all Contemporary Art Society Museum Members, and applicants will be asked to make a strong case for addressing the representation of female artists within their existing collections. Intended to provoke an examination of collecting practice that has a wider effect beyond the acquisition of the awarded work, Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society will act as a focal point for debate on gender inequality in the arts.

The successful museum will undertake a period of research supported by the Contemporary Art Society and Valeria Napoleone leading to the acquisition of a work. The work purchased will be presented first in a display at Camden Arts Centre in January 2017 before forming the centrepiece of a solo show for the artist at the recipient museum.

Valeria Napoleone said:

This project is a great opportunity to continue my mission in supporting artists’ practices and those realities which are overlooked and ignored, aiming to take a step further in addressing the holes within museum collections all over the UK. The Contemporary Art Society and I share a common goal to nurture regional institutions and the needs of their communities for our collective cultural benefit in the UK.

Caroline Douglas, Director, Contemporary Art Society, said:

Museum collections necessarily reflect historical gender imbalances and the 20th and 21st centuries have seen many more female artists achieving international recognition.  But there is still work to do. In joining forces with Valeria Napoleone we have a unique opportunity to proactively help our Museum Members build collections that accurately reflect the diversity of great work being produced by living artists. The partnership with Camden Arts Centre offers a great London showcase for works we acquire, as part of an acclaimed international programme of exhibitions.

The Contemporary Art Society will be inviting expressions of interest from its Museum Members in April 2016. The work acquired will be presented at Camden Arts Centre in January 2017.

For more information about this event and all press enquiries please contact:

Marcus Crofton, Communications Manager, Contemporary Art Society
+44 (0)20 7017 8412


Notes to Editors:

*The East London Fawcett Group (ELF) audited the solo shows featured in the exhibition programmes of 29 noncommercial galleries in London between April 2012 and April 2013, including a total of 133 solo shows:

  • 31% of these shows were by female artists
  • Nearly a third of the galleries (31%) presented no female solo shows (but a number of male solo shows) during this period
  • Over two thirds of the galleries exhibited more than 60% male solo shows
  • Only 1 of the 29 galleries exhibited an equal number of male and female solo shows
  • ·         Only one of the gallery programmes that ELF audited (that’s 3%) featured all female solo shows, whereas 31% of the gallery programmes featured all male solo shows


Valeria Napoleone is an art collector and patron to a select number of arts organisations. She is a Trustee of the Contemporary Art Society and Head of the Development Committee at Studio Voltaire, she sits on the Boards of the Fashion Arts Foundation of the BFC, the Institute of Fine Arts in NYC, and is a member of the NYU President’s Global Council. In addition to Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society, Napoleone will be launching Valeria Napoleone XX SculptureCenter in September as a collaborative project that supports the production of a major artwork in a selected exhibition every 12 to 18 months at the New York-based non-profit dedicated to contemporary sculpture.

Valeria received a BA from New York University’s Journalism School and an MA in Art Gallery Administration at the Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC. Valeria’s collection focuses on female contemporary artists working internationally. Forming an exceptionally close bond with artists, Valeria has supported many of today’s most acclaimed artists at pivotal moments in their careers.


The Contemporary Art Society champions the collecting of outstanding contemporary art and craft in the UK. Since 1910 the charity has donated thousands of works by living artists to museums, from Picasso, Bacon, Hepworth and Moore in their day, through to the influential artists of our times. Sitting at the heart of cultural life in the UK, the Contemporary Art Society brokers philanthropic support for the benefit of museums and their audiences across the entire country. Their work ensures that the story of art continues to be told now and for future generations.


Camden Arts Centre is an institution celebrated for world-class contemporary art exhibitions and education. With artists at the core of the programme, it involves members of the public in the ideas and processes of today’s artists, and the artists who inspire them. Camden Arts Centre’s long-established residency programme has been instrumental in nurturing artists at early stages of their careers, providing them with the opportunity to make new work and take risks with new ideas. Camden Arts Centre celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2015.