Sherrie Wolf (b. 1952),
Sherrie Wolf (b. 1952), "Self-Portrait in Rose Bonheur's Studio," 2023, oil on canvas, 70 x 95 in., Russo Lee Gallery (Portland, Oregon)

From the Fine Art Connoisseur January/February 2024 Editor’s Note:

Onward and Upward

Fine Art Connoisseur January / February 2024
Fine Art Connoisseur magazine, January/February 2024

In Washington, D.C., this October, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) reopened after a two-year renovation of its historic building. When I first learned of its plans to close, I winced because I clearly remember visiting during its inaugural year — 1987. That was 37 years ago! Even though I had grown up around art museums (my late mother worked at the Smithsonian Institution and National Gallery of Art), I remember marveling over many female artists I had never even heard of.

Back then, some critics thought the museum’s founder, Wilhemina Cole Holladay (1922–2021), was consigning female artists to a kind of “ghetto,” and that she should have donated her core collection to an existing museum where the public could see them alongside their male counterparts. But she knew that only a fraction of her works (by big names like Kahlo and O’Keeffe) would have been displayed regularly; surely the rest would have ended up in storage.

Thanks to NMWA and many other organizations and people, the visibility of women artists — both historical and contemporary — has soared since 1987. Yet on many fronts (including pricing, auction sales, and solo exhibitions), the situation is still far from equitable. We are moving in the right direction, but NMWA remains essential as a place where we can always — not sometimes — discover and rediscover a range of women artists. Its upgraded facility will allow the curatorial team to mount even more ambitious projects, and I look forward to visiting as often as possible.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts in downtown Washington, D.C.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts in downtown Washington, D.C.; photo: Cameron Robinson

NMWA has long stood out among U.S. museums for its national and international committees, which champion women artists far beyond Washington. Committee members plan local programs that highlight the museum’s mission, collection, exhibitions, and activities. They also work with NMWA staff to increase membership, donate works of art, and fund exhibitions, education programs, and object conservation. Details are available at, with links leading to the committees in Arizona, Arkansas, Northern and Southern California, Colorado, Georgia, Greater Kansas City, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. Getting involved not only benefits NMWA, but also connects you with kindred spirits in your own region.

See you in Washington soon.

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