Check out the only museum in the world solely dedicated to women in the arts, which recently received a wondrous renovation.
What and where is the National Museum of Women in the Arts?
The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is located at 1250 New York Avenue NW in DC's Downtown neighbohood. Founded in 1981 and opened in 1987, NMWA is the only major museum on the planet solely dedicated to celebrating the diverse achievements of women artists. The museum’s collection includes more than 6,000 works dating from the 16th century to the present.
The museum is open every day of the year except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Hours are Tuesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Patrons under the age of 21 enter for free. Admission for adults is $16, while visitors ages 70 and over and DC residents pay $13. Become a member with NMWA and you can enter for free.
The easiest way to get there is via Metrorail or Metrobus. The closest Metro stop is the Metro Center station on the Red, Blue, Orange and Silver lines. Numerous Metrobus routes, including the 80, G8, S2, S4, X2, 68 and 42 will take you to the corner of H and 13th Streets, a short walk from the museum.
The facility is handicap-accessible.
What’s inside the National Museum of Women in the Arts?
A recent renovation has only added and enhanced the wonderful offerings at this only-in-DC museum. Enlarged gallery spaces make for more art, both in quantity and variety. A studio workshop has been added, where visitors can learn and create their own art. There's also a beautiful new performance hall and a brand new exhibit entitled The Sky's the Limit, which features hanging sculptures on the second floor thanks to a newly reinforced ceiling. In total, 40% of the 6,000 works now on display at the museum are making their debut.
The powerful contributions that women have made to the art world can be surveyed inside NMWA. The collection spans hundreds of years, encompassing numerous eras and seminal artists. NMWA has organized the collections by theme, letting visitors observe how certain ideas and modes of art have been in dialogue with each other across centuries.
Your journey will feature still-life paintings from the 1600s and cutting-edge photography from the 2000s. You’ll be able to observe the stunning detail of a portrait by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, the intimacy of a print made by Mary Cassatt, the abstract beauty of a sculpture by Judy Chicago and Frida Kahlo's Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky, with the social, cultural and political revolutions that women forged to make their voices heard serving as vital context throughout.
Additional highlights include They Call Me Redbone but I’d Rather Be Strawberry Shortcake by Amy Sherald, the artist responsible for the new Michelle Obama portrait at the National Portrait Gallery, whose distinct style is evident in both pieces. There’s Sonya Clark’s transcendent Afro Abe II, a U.S. five-dollar bill featuring the 16th president outfitted with the hairstyle found in the title. Locals will love a view of Rainy Night, Downtown by Georgia Mills Jessup, an interpretation of a DC street with gorgeous contrasts and shapes.
Of course, NMWA frequently offers exciting exhibits that hone in on a particular artist or theme, including its Women to Watch series. Visit the museum’s website to see what’s currently on display and what’s upcoming.
To see what’s going on during your visit, check out the NMWA events calendar, plus you can experience programs and exhibitions online through NMWA at home. One recurring event to keep in mind: Free Community Day, which occurs on the first and third Sundays of each month through November and allows free admission to the museum all day with a timed ticket.