Women and the Carnegie International

Standing in the CMOA Library with copies of the printed catalogues of past Carnegie International exhibitions (1896-present)


Women and the Carnegie International

Museum Studies Intern at the Carnegie Museum of Art – Fall 2019

Women have historically been excluded from museums and positions of power in institutions. Even today, there are countless initiatives to exhibit more women artists in museums. However, looking specifically at the early history of the Carnegie International exhibitions, women were much more included than might be expected for the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My internship centered around digitizing catalogs of the paintings featured in past Carnegie International exhibitions. I was surprised to learn that several female artists’ paintings were accepted in the first Carnegie International in 1896The first few exhibitions featured a handful of women, but as the years went by more and more women had their paintings included in the Carnegie International.

As a part of Pitt’s Fall 2018 class "Inside the Carnegie," my classmates and I had the opportunity to meet with some of the artists included in the 57th Carnegie International as well as the curator of the exhibition, Ingrid Schaffner. Having an inside look behind the making of the exhibition truly helped me to appreciate the amount of meticulous work that goes into curating an exhibition of that size. Not only was it insightful to meet with Schaffner, it was also so thrilling to see a woman curating an exhibition as prolific as the Carnegie International. Looking holistically from the first International to the most recent, there is a consistent pattern in female inclusion. The progression from a few women being showcased in 1896 to a woman curating the entire exhibition shows the growth of the Carnegie Museum and the promise for more women involved in the arts in Pittsburgh.

My experience interning with Akemi May, Assistant Curator of Fine Arts and Decorative Arts, and Emily Mirales, Curatorial Assistant of Fine Arts, at the Carnegie Museum of Art, was eye-opening to say the least. I have gained many skills from my experience interning at the CMOA. I honed my communication skills by being able to effectively relay my progress in digitizing records. Additionally, I had to be independent as I was responsible for my own progress through the exhibition records. Interning in the Carnegie Museum of Art has taught me to understand the history and appreciate the efforts women have made in the art world.

  • Academic Interns
  • Undergraduate Work
  • Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh