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National Museum of Women in the Arts: Redefining How we See Women Artists & Their Art

The National Museum of Women in the Arts recently concluded a two-year closure for renovations and expansion. Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., the museum unveiled its newly renovated galleries back in October.

View of the National Museum of Women in the Arts building from outside showing the Neoclassical building from one side. The building is a tan-colored stone with an arched doorway, long vertical windows, and detailed molding around the roof.
National Museum of Women in the Arts, exterior, 13th Street and New York Avenue sides, 2023; Photo by John Mannarino

Redefining Exhibition Spaces

Central to the museum’s reimagining is the restructuring of its permanent collection galleries. Departing from traditional chronological arrangements, instead uses thematic curation, facilitating interdisciplinary dialogues and fostering connections among diverse artworks.

Architectural Innovations and Accessibility

Architectural enhancements enhance visitor experience and ensuring accessibility. Designed by Sandra Parsons Vicchio, the renovated space prioritizes openness and fluidity, accommodating larger artworks and eliminating spatial constraints. Crucially, accessibility features have been integrated to ensure inclusivity.

A modern museum gallery is photographed at a wide angle. Visitors observe large sculptures, several of which hang from the ceiling.
The Sky’s the Limit (installation view); Photo by Jennifer Hughes, courtesy of the National Museum of Women in the Arts Photo credit: Jennifer Hughes. 2023/09/26

Highlighting Artistic Diversity

The reopening of the National Museum of Women in the Arts heralds the arrival of several notable exhibitions, showcasing the breadth and diversity of women’s artistic contributions. From monumental sculptures to intimate paintings, each artwork serves as a testament to the enduring creativity and innovation of women artists.

For the most up to date calendar of exhibitions and events be sure to visit the NMWA website.

Challenging Historical Narratives

Through thought-provoking exhibitions, the museum confronts conventional interpretations of art history, addressing themes of resilience, resistance, and reimagination. By juxtaposing artworks from different eras and cultures, it invites visitors to critically engage with prevailing notions of gender, identity, and representation.

A black-and-white photograph shows the back of a woman as she crests a rocky path above a vast desert landscape beneath an expansive sky. Her traditional, ethnic full skirt, long-sleeved blouse, and long, straight, dark hair contrasts with the modern portable stereo she carries.
Graciela Iturbide, Mujer Ángel, Desierto de Sonora (Angel Woman, Sonoran Desert), 1979 (printed 2014); Gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 in.; NMWA, Gift of Cindy Jones; © Graciela Iturbide, Image courtesy of Throckmorton Fine Art, NYC

Promoting Inclusivity and Equity

The museum remains committed to diversifying the artistic canon and amplifying marginalized voices. By spotlighting artists from diverse backgrounds, it seeks to rectify historical erasures and challenge systemic biases within the art world. Through educational initiatives, it fosters a more equitable and inclusive cultural landscape.

Confronting Contemporary Realities

In response to ongoing social and cultural challenges, the museum addresses pressing issues such as racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and environmental activism. Through exhibitions that reflect contemporary realities, it aims to spark dialogue, inspire empathy, and catalyze positive social change.

A modern museum gallery is photographed at a wide angle. It features several inset bays in which art of various sizes and mediums is hung. Visitors walk through the galleries and observe the works.
Collection galleries at the National Museum of Women in the Arts; Photo by Jennifer Hughes, courtesy of NMWA

A Vision for the Future

As the National Museum of Women in the Arts embarks on this new phase of its journey, it remains committed to its founding mission of celebrating and championing women artists. With its expanded galleries, visionary leadership, and unwavering dedication to equity and inclusion, the museum stands poised to shape the cultural landscape for generations to come.

Authors

  • Robin Jaffin

    As the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners, LLC through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone she has played a pivotal role in promoting dietary solutions for individuals with specific needs in the health and wellness industry as well as amplify the voices and experiences of women worldwide.

  • Dede Wilson

    Dédé Wilson is a journalist with over 17 cookbooks to her name and is the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners LLC, currently publishing through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone.

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