Located in the heart of Washington, D.C. just a few blocks from the White House, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) champions women through the arts. Unlike traditional art museums, this institution is a celebration of the often-overlooked contributions of women artists.
Women in the Arts
Did you know that only 11% of all acquisitions at major American museums over the past 10 years were of work by female artists? Founded in 1981 as the first major gallery to exclusively exhibit the works of women artists, NMWA advocates for gender equality and social justice. Their advocacy starts with the museum exhibits, but goes much further than that.
NWMA created the award-winning social media campaign #5WomenArtists. Each year during Women’s History Month, the campaign asks readers if they can name five women artists. Hundreds of organizations and even more individuals participate each year to spark a global conversation and gender equity in the arts.
Check out the other advocacy initiatives led by NWMA!
NMWA closed in August 2021 to undertake a major renovation to the six story Classical Revival style building it calls home. This ambitious project not only pays homage to the building’s historic roots but also envisions a future that aligns with the museum’s mission. The renovation encompassed a spectrum of improvements, from enlarged gallery spaces to upgraded lighting that enhances the viewing experience. NMWA also enhanced its infrastructure with climate control systems for both art conservation and visitor comfort.
The reopening in October marked a transformation in visitor experience. Magnificent outdoor sculptures greet guests before they set foot in the museum. Once inside, the redesigned Great Hall offers space for daily programs and events. The new Learning Commons, Reading Room, and education studio foster engagement and hands-on art activities.
The renovations also included improved signage, wayfinding, and ADA accessibility to help visitors explore the stunning exhibits throughout the museum.
The NMWA displays a diverse collection that spans six centuries and six continents, highlighting the rich tapestry of women’s artistic expressions. With more than 5500 works in its collection, there is no shortage of amazing artwork to display. Some of the captivating exhibitions currently on display include the following:
“The Sky’s the Limit” (Oct 21, 2023, to Feb 25, 2024)
Step into a world where contemporary sculptures defy gravity and extend beyond their traditional confines. “The Sky’s the Limit” showcases process-focused sculptures, a medium pioneered by women creators in the mid-20th century. Marvel at towering artworks featuring unconventional materials, from silver-plated vessels to ostrich eggs, each piece a testament to the artists’ ingenuity.
“Remix: The Collection” (Oct 21, 2023, to Oct 21, 2025)
“Remix” invites you to rediscover collection favorites alongside never-before-exhibited acquisitions. Artworks are ingeniously grouped around themes, resonating globally across time. Whether anchored by medium or idea, the exhibit explores photography, fiber works, colors like red and purple, nature, and domesticity, creating a rich tapestry of artistic expressions.
“In Focus: Artists at Work” (Oct 21, 2023, to Sep 22, 2024)
Take a peek behind the artistic curtain with “In Focus,” offering a close-up look at the practices and perspectives of eight contemporary collection artists. Short documentary-style videos presented in NMWA’s ground-floor Long Gallery provide an intimate and immersive experience, sparking curiosity and inspiring advocacy.
“Impressive: Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella” (Oct 21, 2023, to Oct 20, 2024)
Journey back in time with “Impressive” as it unveils “The Entrance of the Emperor Sigismond into Mantua” (1675) by 17th-century French artist Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella. This extraordinary series of prints, presented for the first time in almost 15 years, delves into the circumstances of its creation and Bouzonnet-Stella’s life in Paris.
“Holding Ground: Artists’ Books for the NMWA” (Oct 21, 2023, to Oct 20, 2024)
Celebrate creativity in diverse spaces with “Holding Ground,” featuring nine new works by celebrated book artists. These works inaugurate NMWA’s new Learning Commons and reinvigorate the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, reflecting on NMWA as a unique place for women’s art and celebrating the spaces where creativity blossoms.
Plan Your Visit
The National Museum of Women in the Arts operates Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. They offer evening hours from 5:00 pm to 8:00pm on the third Wednesday of every month. Adult tickets cost $16, but adults 70+ and DC residents pay just $13. Admission is free to anyone 21 and under and anyone with disabilities. They also host Community Days on the first Sunday and second Wednesday of every month when admission is free for everyone. Get more information here.