Women have played key patronage roles in the history of art—from the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut, through Renaissance patrons such as Marie de’ Medici, to Peggy Guggenheim—but they’ve long been the minority of collectors recognized for their contributions. One analysis of ARTnews’s list of top collectors found that only 10 percent were lone females, perhaps a reflection of the outsized economic power still held by men.
But as women grow as forces in the art world—as artists, dealers, curators, and museum directors—it’s clear that female collectors will be part of the change. Many of the collectors profiled below share a resolve to bring their private passion for art to a wider audience, taking art out of their living rooms and into the realm of public discourse.
“Their commitment goes beyond just the acquisition and display of the artworks,” said San Francisco–based gallerist Wendi Norris. “There’s a devotion and a financial commitment towards education and accessibility to a greater group of people who couldn’t otherwise have access to it.”