For more than two decades, museum founders Wilhelmina Cole Holladay and Wallace F. Holladay devoted themselves to collecting works by women artists. This institution, which opened in 1981, showcases their collection and even more art by women. By 1987, it had secured a permanent, 78,810-square-foot space in a refurbished Masonic Temple near the White House.
The art dates from the 16th through the 21st century. The collection includes 16th and 17th century paintings by Judith Leyster and Lavinia Fontana, 18th century painting by Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun, 19th century painting by Rosa Bonheur and Mary Cassatt, and 20th and 21st century works by Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe.
The museum’s special exhibitions cover a wide range of themes pertinent to women in art. In the past they have included contemporary art from Turkey, fashion photographs by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, an exhibition of prints and paintings by Isabel Bishop, and Pueblo pottery of Tammy Garcia.
National Museum of Women in the Arts Information
- Public Transportation: Very good (accessible by Red, Blue or Orange Metro lines, as well as local buses)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Hours: Monday–Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday noon–5 p.m.
- Admission: $10, students and seniors (65+) $8, youth (18 and under) free
- Free Day: First Sunday of every month
- Tours: Walk-in tours are offered throughout the week when guides are available. Walk-in tours give a brief overview of the museum and last about 20 minutes. For those who prefer to visit on their own, the wall texts in the permanent-collection galleries provide an overview and guide
- Membership: Individual membership is $40 annually. It includes free unlimited admission to the museum’s collections and exhibitions, a personalized membership card, and special member trip and event invitations, as well as a subscription to NMWA’s award-winning quarterly magazine, Women in the Arts
- Other Benefits: The Young Professional’s Forum ($75/annually) offers individual membership benefits for patrons between the ages of 18 and 30, as well as invitations to cultural, social, and networking events. The $100 annual Friend membership gets you reciprocal admission to other museums. The Sustainer membership ($250/annually) gets you reciprocity, plus additional special visiting privileges and invites to opening parties.