Aims & Strategic Objectives

The Women’s Art Collection at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge is one of the largest and most significant collections of modern and contemporary art by women.

Established in 1986 with the acquisition of a series of works by the leading American artist Mary Kelly, it now numbers over five hundred paintings, works on paper, photographs and sculptures which are on display throughout the College and its gardens.


  • The aim of the Women’s Art Collection is to champion artists who identify as women, to give them visibility and a voice, and promote their work within the ethos of an academic college for women dedicated to gender equality. An Arts Council accredited collection it is publicly accessible and free to visit.


  • To be a collection that champions the work of artists who identify as women via curated displays and interpretation within a framework that critically engages with contemporary thinking on gender, race and ethnicity, as well as inequality more broadly and the history of art by women.
  • To be an active resource for artists, researchers, academics, curators and museum professionals in order to generate greater understanding and knowledge of the work of artists who identify as women.
  • To create an inspiring environment that sparks curiosity, engagement and dialogue for those who live, work and study in the College.
  • To collaborate with academics working across departments in the University of Cambridge, to bring new perspectives to the Collection and help position the Collection within broader academic research.
  • To provide a focus for interdisciplinary research and artist-led public engagement programmes that generate discourse and connect the academic community with students, artists, cultural practitioners and art visitors.
  • To foster strategic partnerships with relevant organisations to raise the visibility of the Collection, help secure its future and reach broader audiences

Collecting Focus

  • The collection will concentrate on work that thinks critically about gender, inequality more broadly and the history of art by women. This has been borne out of the work of the American feminist artist Mary Kelly whose landmark series Extase started the collection and whose work enables us to develop a focus on feminist art and its legacies.