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Visiting the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC
Check out the only museum in the world solely dedicated to women in the arts.
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 4,500 works from over 1,000 artists, 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 from Monday – Saturday are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., while Sunday’s hours are 12-5 p.m. Patrons under the age of 18 enter for free. Admission for adults is $10, while visitors ages 65 and over and students pay $8. 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.
What’s inside the National Museum of Women in the Arts?
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.
Recent 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.
The museum also hosts gallery talks, performances, guided tours, meet-and-greets with artists, pop-up exhibitions, film screenings and more. To see what’s going on during your visit, check out the NMWA events calendar. One recurring event to keep in mind: Free Community Day, which occurs on the first Sunday of each month and allows free admission to the museum all day.
If you have an appetite before or after exploring fascinating art by women, head to the Mezzanine Café, which offers a menu crafted by Union Kitchen and DS Deli. You can also bring some of the museum home with you thanks to NMWA’s awesome gift shop, which offers books, accessories, home goods and more.