A modern art museum gallery is photographed at a wide angle. A visitor observes framed artworks on the walls to the left. To the right of the visitor, a large mixed media painting shows a downtrodden woman walking with a hulking load of corn on her back. Several birds stand at her feet.
Hung Liu: Making History (installation view); Photo by Jennifer Hughes, courtesy of the National Museum of Women in the Arts

On October 21, 2023, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) will reopen after more than two years to unveil its highly anticipated top-to-bottom renovation. The historic building’s transformation will be highlighted by immersive exhibitions showcasing powerful works by contemporary women artists and a bold thematic reimagining of its stellar collection of international art spanning six centuries.

The world’s first major museum solely dedicated to championing women artists, NMWA has expanded and enhanced the visitor experience at its home in Washington, D.C., with new exhibition spaces, enlarged public programming areas, enhanced amenities, and increased accessibility. To celebrate opening weekend—Saturday, October 21 and Sunday, October 22, 2023—NMWA will offer free admission and festivities, including art-making, interactive activities, and live performances.

“This expansive transformation heralds a new era for the National Museum of Women in the Arts,” said Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “Our building is the flagship for our mission, which resonates today more than ever. NMWA’s renovation—made possible thanks to extraordinary donors and dedicated staff members—brings new possibilities for dynamic exhibitions, programs, and connections. This venture springs from our work championing gender equity through the arts.”

A black and white archival photo of NMWA's building during construction taken from the street. There is a wooden fence around the base of the building with a horsedrawn carriage parked on the street. A person, represented only as a blur, is crossing the street. Art museum construction.
Construction of the National Museum of Women in the Arts building (formerly Masonic Temple), 1908; Courtesy of the Columbia Historical Society

NMWA’s $67.5 million project, designed by Baltimore-based architectural firm Sandra Vicchio & Associates, is the museum’s first full renovation since opening in 1987. It honors the legacy of the 1908 Classical Revival structure while improving its façade, interior spaces, and infrastructure.

Wearing a bright yellow apron-style dress with strawberries and lace-trim details, an expressionless young woman with medium-dark skin tone rendered in grayscale stares out with her hands in her dress pockets. Her head is cocked to one side against an intensely pink-colored background.
Amy Sherald, “They Call Me Redbone but I’d Rather Be Strawberry Shortcake,” 2009; Oil on canvas, 54 x 43 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of the artist and the 25th Anniversary of NMWA; © Amy Sherald, Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

NMWA’s renovated galleries will open with innovative presentations not previously possible. The inaugural exhibitions and remixed collection installation highlight new opportunities: nearly 40% of the works on view will be exhibited for the first time at NMWA, including nearly 70 works from the museum’s collection.

In a painted self-portrait, the artist stands in a stage-like space framed by white curtains. Beneath black hair woven with red yarn and flowers, heavy brows accent her dark-eyed gaze. Clad in a fringed, honey-toned shawl; long, pink skirt; and gold jewelry, she holds a bouquet and a handwritten letter.
Frida Kahlo, “Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky,” 1937; Oil on Masonite, 30 x 24 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of the Honorable Clare Boothe Luce; © Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Image by Google

An extensive collection reinstallation, “Remix: The Collection,” offers thematic and provocative combinations of works from NMWA’s holdings that span six continents and six centuries. The reconfiguration of the gallery spaces creates compelling new sightlines between works, inviting discussion and new insights.

 A orange ceramic colander holds several types of fish of varying sizes that lie stacked. In the foreground, a cat stands alert with its paws on a yellow fish. In front of the colander, a gleaming pewter dish holds shrimp and oyster shells. The surfaces all reflect and shine.
Clara Peeters, “Still Life of Fish and Cat,” after 1620; Oil on panel, 13 1/2 x 18 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Learn more about this exciting art museum reopening at nmwa.org.

View more art museum announcements here at FineArtConnoisseur.com.


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