First Looks: NO MAN’S LAND

NMWA’s new contemporary exhibition NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection opened with a bang. On Thursday, September 29, NMWA members enjoyed a first look at the exhibition during Member Preview Day and the public celebrated with a special evening reception.


Attendees study work by Kerstin Brätsch (left) and Karin Davie (right); Photo: Kevin Allen

NMWA presents a new vision of the exhibition, which opened in December 2015 at the Rubell Family Collection (RFC)’s 45,000-square-foot Miami facility. The new presentation features paintings and sculptures by 37 artists from 15 countries. Stemming from the 1970s feminist art movement, NO MAN’S LAND plays with images of the female body and the process of making, subverting the convention of handcraft as “women’s work” into a beautiful, visual conversation reclaiming the female form.

Rubell Family Collection Director Juan Roselione-Valadez

Rubell Family Collection Director Juan Roselione-Valadez leading a tour during the opening reception; Photo: Kevin Allen

The event brightened a rainy Thursday for all the attendees. Members gained early access to the exhibition through tours led by knowledgeable and engaging curatorial and education staff. Each thematic tour focused on different aspects of the collection. One member described the day as “an excellent experience that highlighted talented women and prompted important conversation.” During the day members received perks at the Mezzanine Café and in the Museum Shop, featuring the NO MAN’S LAND catalogue and the gag nutcracker that inspired artist Jennifer Rubell’s attention-grabbing Lysa III.

NMWA’s Great Hall: Photo: Kevin Allen

NMWA’s Great Hall; Photo: Kevin Allen

Evening reception attendees sported glow stick accessories and enjoyed Miami-inspired appetizers and drinks—including zesty mini tacos and a specialty mojito—while DJ Elodie Maillot energized the crowd. Collectors Don and Mera Rubell were also in attendance and chatted with guests about the works on view.

From Brazilian artist Maria Nepomuceno’s immersive work to Karin Davie’s large-scale optical illusion, the power and playfulness of NO MAN’S LAND captivated its premier audience. Guests left the museum with smiles and compliments, lamenting the evening’s end and vowing to “return again soon to study the exhibition further.”

Intrigued? Become a member today and take part in the next Member Preview Day! Check the online calendar for more information about upcoming gallery talks and programs. Visit NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, on view through January 8, 2017.

—Caroline Byrd is the fall 2016 membership intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

NMWA by the Numbers

While traveling abroad in the 1960s, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay and her husband, Wallace, admired art by 17th-century Flemish painter Clara Peeters. Returning to the U.S., they discovered that none of the leading art history textbooks referenced Peeters or any other female artist. Inspired to rediscover this lost heritage, the Holladays began acquiring works by women artists and amassing a library of research and archival materials. From these collections, Holladay established the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in 1981; the museum’s doors opened in 1987.

Founded to redefine traditional histories of art, NMWA exhibits, preserves, acquires, and researches art by women and teaches the public about their accomplishments. Take a look at NMWA by the numbers.

Cost of admission on the first Sunday of every month, as a part of NMWA’s free community days.

NMWA is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to recognizing women’s creative contributions.

Number of artists featured in the current special exhibition Total Art: Contemporary Video.

Countries represented by NMWA’s international members.

Women artists identified in the current edition of Janson’s Basic History of Western Art (9th Edition)—up from zero in the 1970s.

High-resolution images of artwork in NMWA’s collection presented on the Google Art Project beginning in March 2014. The resolution of these images, combined with a custom-built zoom viewer, allows art lovers to discover minute aspects of paintings they may have never seen up close before.

Issues of Women in the Arts magazine produced and published by NMWA, which began as a newsletter in the summer of 1983, four years prior to the public opening of the museum.

Special exhibitions presented by NMWA celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing and literary arts.

The year NMWA opened to the public.

Average hours worked per year by NMWA’s dedicated volunteers.


Photography by Dakota Fine

Objects preserved and displayed in NMWA’s collection.

Volumes maintained at the NMWA’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center.

NMWA members around the world representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Vietnam.

Miles to Australia, home to the NMWA member who lives the farthest away.

Square feet of the main building housing NMWA, originally a Masonic temple, purchased in 1983.

The number of people served by NMWA’s education programs.

$50 million
The endowment goal reached for the Legacy of Women in the Arts campaign during NMWA’s 25th anniversary.

7 billion
Pixels contained in the Google Art Project’s high-resolution photograph of Rachel Ruysch’s Roses, Convolvulus, Poppies, and other Flowers in an Urn on a Stone Ledge (ca. 1680s).

Detail of Rachel Ruysch’s painting—click here to see more of NMWA’s art on the Google Art Project

Detail of Rachel Ruysch’s painting—see more of NMWA’s art on the Google Art Project

There’s just one NMWA, the only museum solely dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing, and literary arts. The museum’s collection features 4,500 works from the 16th century to the present created by more than 1,000 artists, including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Alma Thomas, Lee Krasner, Louise Bourgeois, Chakaia Booker, and Nan Goldin, along with collections of artists’ books, 18th-century silver tableware, and botanical prints.

NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., in a landmark building near the White House. Come visit: the museum is open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and Sunday, noon–5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for visitors 65 and over and students, and free for NMWA members and youths 18 and under. Free Community Days take place on the first Sunday of each month. For more information about NMWA, call 202-783-5000, visit, Facebook, or Twitter.

Judy’s Diamond Jubilee

Today is a very special day for the legendary Judy Chicago—her 75th birthday!

Over her 75 years, Judy Chicago has made a prominent name for herself as an artist, author, educator, and source of inspiration for men and women all over the globe. After producing installation pieces such as Womanhouse (1972) and The Dinner Party (1975), Chicago achieved international stardom as a pioneer of the feminist art movement in the 1970s.

Judy Chicago at NMWA with museum Founder Wilhelmina Cole Holladay; Photo Laura Hoffman

Judy Chicago at NMWA with museum Founder Wilhelmina Cole Holladay; Photo: Laura Hoffman

In order to commemorate this dynamic period of Chicago’s career and the coinciding feminist movement, NMWA held an exhibition of her work earlier this year, Judy Chicago: Circa ’75. In March, Chicago visited the museum for an opportunity to speak to NMWA’s members and guests about the exhibition as well as her newest book, Institutional Time: A Critique of Studio Art Education.

During the conversation, Chicago applauded NMWA, saying, “as long as MoMA is a museum of men, we need a museum for women in the arts.” She described her regular past visits to the museum, noting how “every time I walk into [NMWA] I see my predecessors and what they had to go through to get here.”

At the end of the discussion, NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling presented Chicago with personalized cards to celebrate her birthday and pay homage to her incredible artistic achievements. Chicago was touched by the heartfelt gesture by the members, noting that she wanted to read their notes right then and there.

Cards from NMWA members to Chicago: “Thank you for sharing wisdom and beauty with your powerful art!”

Cards from NMWA members to Chicago: “Thank you for sharing wisdom and beauty with your powerful art!”

In Institutional Time, Chicago discusses her legacy, stating “I became determined to use my time on earth to create art—as much of it as possible . . . and to make a place for myself in art history.” Now, on her 75th birthday, Chicago has irrefutably, permanently left her mark on modern discourses of art history. Happy birthday to this visionary artist!

—Olivia Zvara is the member relations intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Membership, Mission, and Masterpieces

From NMWA’s founding in 1981 to the public opening of the museum in 1987, to the exhibitions and programs that have kept NMWA’s audiences educated and entertained throughout the years, the success of the National Museum of Women in the Arts depends on the loyal support of members. With thousands of members around the U.S. and abroad, NWMA’s membership is large, enthusiastic, and connected to the museum’s mission.

Members with Elena Brockmann's painting "Philip II Receiving the News of the Loss of the Invincible Armada," 1895; Members' Acquisition Fund

Members with Elena Brockmann’s painting Philip II Receiving the News of the Loss of the Invincible Armada, 1895; Members’ Acquisition Fund

In addition to supporting the museum’s special exhibitions, valued NMWA members have helped the museum to add numerous works to the collection—by distinguished artists such as Elena Brockmann, Chakaia Booker, Lesley Dill, and Judy Chicago. Works by these artists were acquired in part from the Members’ Acquisition Fund—which is built a few dollars at a time, when members add to their annual donations—and represent a wide range of mediums, time periods, and genres.

While Brockmann’s enormous work, Philip II Receiving the News of the Loss of the Invincible Armada, is an example of large-scale history painting from 19th-century Spain, Judy Chicago’s preparatory drawing for Emily Dickinson’s place setting in her iconic installation The Dinner Party is an emblem of the American feminist movement of the 1970s.

Chakaia Booker, Acid Rain, 2001; Museum purchase: Members’ Acquisition Fund

Chakaia Booker, Acid Rain, 2001; Museum purchase: Members’ Acquisition Fund

Members have also helped NMWA purchase contemporary installation pieces such as Booker’s Acid Rain, which deals with themes including the intersection between domestic femininity and the traditionally masculine realms of construction and technology. Lesley Dill’s I Heard a Voice, another contemporary work, provokes individual reflection through imagery related to nature, the body, literature, and the spirit.

These wonderful additions to the collection are just a few of the many works NMWA members have helped the museum to acquire.

In celebration of the summer season and the subsequent influx of visitors to NMWA, June has been designated as Membership Month. If you’d like to help NMWA celebrate the artistic accomplishments of women, please join today.

In honor of Membership Month, NMWA sends a special thanks to all of the members who have supported the museum over the years! Feel free to use the comments section to tell a story about the museum or let us know about your favorite accomplishment by members.

—Olivia Zvara is the member relations intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Members & Mashups: Video Art Preview Day

Last Thursday, NMWA members visited the museum for a sneak peak at our newest exhibition, Total Art: Contemporary Video. Member Preview Days are hosted by NMWA’s staff the day before new exhibitions open to the public. They provide members with exclusive access to each new show as well as access to special talks and programs.

Members listened to an in-depth talk about the artists and works in Total Art

Members listened to an in-depth talk about the artists and works in Total Art

Highlighting the works of 10 contemporary artists, this exhibition is NMWA’s first-ever exhibition to focus primarily on video art. The exhibition features works by Dara Birnbaum, Kimsooja, Mariko Mori, Mwangi Hutter, Alex Prager, Pipilotti Rist, Michal Rovner, Margaret Salmon, Eve Sussman/Rufus Corporation, and Janaina Tschäpe.

MemberPreview_1_IMG_7184In order to accommodate all 10 works—with individual viewing spaces that provide optimal light and sound for each video installation—NMWA’s curatorial team redesigned and transformed the second floor gallery space. Newly constructed walls, sound boards, paint, and dimly lit spaces create a totally immersive viewing environment.

To kick the day off, NMWA members gathered in the Great Hall for a tasty spread of refreshments and an opportunity to mingle. They were then treated to a special lecture by Chief Curator Kathryn Wat and Curatorial Fellow Rachel Gustafson. During the lecture, Wat discussed video as an all-encompassing art form that incorporates film, photography, choreography, and audio. This presentation allowed members to gain a deeper understanding of video art, one of the newest artistic mediums, and the impact it will have will have on art history. The curators provided context and background for all 10 works of art, giving members greater insight into the narratives and production methods.

MemberPreviewDay_3_IMG_6991After the lecture, members enjoyed tours and group discussions led by the museum’s curatorial and education staff. During these sessions, members asked questions specific to each work and discussed their impressions of the avant-garde exhibition. Members were thrilled to have a behind-the-scenes perspective on this cutting-edge medium.

Throughout the day, members were treated to 20% off purchases at the Mezzanine Café and the Museum Shop. Members also had the opportunity to explore NMWA’s collection galleries and receive a free gift from the Member Relations Department before they departed for the day!

Would you like to take part in the next batch of Member Preview Day fun? Join today, and visit the calendar for a list of upcoming events.

—Olivia Zvara is the member relations intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Internships: Supporting NMWA and Building Careers

Are you curious about interning at the National Museum of Women in the Arts? Interns at NMWA learn about museums and gain work experience in departments from publications to curatorial to development. What’s a NMWA internship really like? Interns’ experiences in their own words:

IMG_8840Brittany Beyer, recent graduate and NMWA development intern, Fall 2012:

  • What’s your educational background?
  • I graduated with a major in Women’s & Gender Studies and a minor in Art History. I applied for a NMWA internship because my majors and interests correlated perfectly with NMWA’s mission.
  • Can you describe your job?
  • I had the unique experience of being at NMWA every day—I was therefore able to work with a lot of different departments. I worked on various projects, including administering the on-site visitor survey and formatting its analysis; drafting a press release; writing blog entries on Women Who Rock; writing a book review to be published in Women in the Arts magazine; creating a visitor experience map; preparing membership department files for the archives; and inputting data into Raiser’s Edge.
  • What has been your favorite part of working at NMWA?
  • My favorite part of working at NMWA was working with my supervisors. They were very inclusive and helped me to understand how the museum functions on a larger scale rather than strictly from the perspective of one department. Oh, and Fro-Yo Fridays!

20111115_7627Deanna Doyle, art and museum studies graduate student and NMWA education intern, Fall 2012:

  • What has been your favorite part of working at NMWA?
  • My favorite part was giving tours. It’s fun working with visitors of different ages and from different backgrounds. I like watching their reactions when they learn something new or are really interested in a fact or artwork.

Katherine Rice, art and museum studies graduate student and NMWA development intern, Fall 2012:

  • What are your career goals?
  • To work in an art museum in some capacity.
  • What has been your favorite part of working at NMWA?
  • The NMWA staff and my fellow interns were my favorite parts. Everyone with whom I worked or interacted was helpful, warm, and, quite often, hilarious. I always felt comfortable asking questions, and always looked forward to coming in to work.
  • What was something fun or unexpected you learned about NMWA?
  • I was surprised, and pleased, to learn how small NMWA’s staff is. A smaller staff allows for more collaboration and interaction, which I really enjoyed.

Interested in learning more? Click here to see which departments are currently accepting applications!

Member Preview Day: A Sweet Success!

On Valentine’s Day, NMWA members were treated to a delightful day, along with some tasty snacks! Those who attended snuck a peak at NMWA’s two newest exhibitions, A World Apart: Anna Ancher and the Skagen Art Colony and Freya Grand: Minding the Landscape

Anna Ancher and Michael Ancher, Judgment of a day's work (detail), 1883; Oil on canvas; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

Anna Ancher and Michael Ancher, Judgment of a day’s work (detail), 1883; Oil on canvas; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

A World Apart provides a glimpse into the life of one of Denmark’s premier female painters, Anna Ancher (1859–1935). Ancher was commended for her artistic talent during her lifetime, but remains little-known in the U.S.  She was respected by colleagues—including her husband, painter Michael Ancher—in the predominantly male art colony in Skagen, a remote coastal town on the northern tip of Denmark. The couple collaborated on a piece, Judgment of a day’s work, that is on view in A World Apart. Ancher’s works, many of which depict interiors, are complemented nicely by the striking landscapes of Freya Grand in NMWA’s other spring exhibition, Minding the Landscape.

Grand, a D.C.-based artist, has traveled the globe in search of remote and breathtaking landscapes for her subject matter. Her works capture specific moments in time, such as a wave breaking on the rocks, drawing viewers into her experiences of the awesome power of nature.

NMWA curators lead tours of Freya Grand: Minding the Landscape

NMWA curators lead tours of Freya Grand: Minding the Landscape

On Member Preview Day, members received tours of the Grand and Ancher exhibitions throughout the day, led by NMWA’s curatorial and education staff. A wonderful time was had by new and veteran members alike! One member, who had never been to an NMWA member event before, noted that her tour guide was knowledgeable, friendly, and had excellent pronunciation. Another member wanted us to know that she enjoyed her day: “Both exhibits were inspiring, excellent, wonderful—featuring artists only the Women’s Museum would promote!” She added that she was “very proud to be a benefactor.”

Members tour A World Apart

Members tour A World Apart

Between tours, members gathered in the museum’s stunning Great Hall to enjoy tea, coffee, and an array of scrumptious mini cupcakes in honor of Valentine’s Day. Many had lunch at the museum’s Mezzanine Café and visited the Museum Shop, receiving a special Member Day discount of 20% at both locations. Members also explored NMWA’s collection galleries and received a free gift from the membership department before they left for the day!

One member stated, “My neighbor is so impressed that she plans to join as a member!”  If you would like to take part in the next batch of Member Day fun, join today at For a list of our upcoming events, visit: .

—Abigail Luhn is the member relations intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Not a DC resident (but want to support NMWA)?

Did you know that 75% of the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ members resides outside of the DC metro area? Our members commonly cite our mission to bring recognition to the achievements of women artists as their main reason for supporting the Museum. And let’s face it – our membership benefits certainly sweeten the deal. All of our membership levels $100 and above include the North American Reciprocal Membership Program (NARM)   which translates to access to over 500 museums throughout the country, Bermuda, Canada, El Salvador, and Mexico for members. The North American Reciprocal Membership Program also extends discounts like those offered to NMWA members on purchases made on the premises in the gift shop as well as on concert and lecture tickets of the participating museums! 

And just to whet your artistic appetite, here is a sampling of exhibitions at participating NARM museums:

The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art in Evanston, IL
I Myself Have Seen It: Photography and Kiki Smith through August 14, 2011

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, NC
Niki de Saint Phalle: Creation of a New Mythology through October 3, 2011

Bennington Museum in Bennington, VT
Grandma Moses and the “Primitive” Tradition through October 31, 2011

Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, ME
Louise Nevelson through December 31, 2011

To learn more about Kiki Smith, “Grandma” Anna Mary Robertson Moses,  Louise Nevelson, and Niki de Saint Phalle (whose playful sculptures are currently featured in NMWA’s New York Avenue Sculpture Project) visit the Clara Database.

The Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, NC
The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure The Signs of Power, 1973-1990 opens September 15, 2011

Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, WA
Carolee Schneemann: Within and Beyond the Premises opens September 24, 2011

The Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, SC
Breaking Down Barriers: 300 Years of Women in Art opens October 28, 2011

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, NM
Jaune Quick-To-See Smith: Landscapes Of An American Modernist opens January 27, 2012
To learn more about Carolee Schneemann and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith visit the Clara Database.
Don’t see your state listed?  Visit the North American Reciprocal Museums for a full list of participating museums!

Presentation of a current NMWA membership card validated with a North American Reciprocal Seal entitles you to admission to participating museums. Discounts are valid only for goods and tickets purchased on premise.  For more information please visit the North American Reciprocal Museums  site or contact NMWA Member Services by phone at 866-875-4627 or by email at

Report from Member Services: A Successful and Fun Member Day for New Exhibitions!

Last Thursday at NMWA, we held Member Day for three just-opened exhibitions, Pressing Ideas: Fifty Years of Women’s Lithographs from Tamarind, The Guerrilla Girls Talk Back, and Susan Swartz: Seasons of the Soul.

Image of Dorothy Dehner, Lunar Series #4, 1970

Dorothy Dehner, Lunar Series #4, 1970; Lithograph, 19 1/2 x 24 in.; University of New Mexico Art Museum; Image Courtesy of the University of Iowa Museum of Art

As we do for every new exhibition, we invited our members (who may each bring a guest) to come enjoy the new shows and take advantage of special tours led by the staff. For this Member Day, we were very lucky in having a special guest, Marjorie Devon, the director of the Tamarind Institute, who came to speak about Tamarind, the art of lithography, and the works in the exhibition. Ms. Devon has worked at the Tamarind Institute, which is located inAlbuquerque, for almost 40 years, and she has been the institute’s director for 22. Her lecture focused on the interesting and time-intensive technique of lithography and the collaboration of artists with master printers. She told firsthand, often funny stories about the artists and their visits to Tamarind. (Devon has recorded some of these stories for NMWA’s guide-by-cell audio program. These audio files are accessible at the museum; a selection will also be posted here on the Broad Strokes blog throughout the exhibition. Please feel free to listen to Devon’s introduction and her thoughts on Polly Apfelbaum, accessible in previous blog posts.)  Describing the show and lecture, one member commented, “The opportunity to hear the description of the lithography process made the tour extra-special!” Another member raved that the Tamarind show was “Superb!”

Jordana Pomeroy, NMWA's chief curator, leads a tour on Member Day

Jordana Pomeroy, NMWA’s chief curator, leads a tour on Member Day

NMWA staff members also led tours of the Guerrilla Girls and Susan Swartz exhibitions. The Girls fascinated our members with their “up-in-your-face” approach to critiquing the contemporary art world. The Susan Swartz show focused on the artist’s connection with nature and her concerns about environmental issues, which are so significant today. Each show brought a different flavor to the day, and members enjoyed all three.

By the end of Member Day, which ran 10 a.m.–3 p.m., 107 visitors had joined us for coffee and refreshments in the museum’s Great Hall as well as the interesting and thought-provoking tours and exhibitions. Thank you to everyone who attended Member Day, and we hope to see you at the next one!

—Carolyn Higgins is the member services intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Membership has its benefits…

Don’t Visit DC Often?

You don’t have to be a DC resident to appreciate the benefits of a membership with the National Museum of Women in the Arts. We have members that live all over the country and even all over the globe. In fact only about 25% of our members live in the DC metro area. Many of our more distant members support the Museum because they believe in the mission of bringing recognition to the achievements of women artists. But there is another reason to be a member of the Museum! If you join at the $100 Friend level or above you receive reciprocal admission to over 450 Museums throughout the country as well as in Bermuda, Canada, El Salvador and Mexico. The North American Reciprocal Membership Program also extends discounts like those offered to NMWA members on purchases made on the premises in the gift shop as well as on concert and lecture tickets of the participating museums! While there are too many museums to list them all, we have highlighted a few here:

Birmingham, Alabama : Birmingham Museum of Art

Anchorage, Alaska: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

San Francisco, California: Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco: de Young Museum and Legion of Honor

Denver, Colorado: Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Ridgefield, Connecticut: Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Sarasota, Florida: The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

Atlanta, Georgia: High Museum of Art

Rockland, Maine: Farnsworth Art Museum

Minneapolis, Minnesota: Walker Arts Center

Kansas City, Missouri: Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Omaha, Nebraska: Joslyn Art Museum

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Georgia O’Keefe Museum

New York City, New York: The Frick Collection

Charlotte, North Carolina: The Mint Museum

Cincinnati, Ohio: Cincinnati Art Museum

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Tacoma, Washington: Tacoma Art Museum

Don’t see your state listed?

Visit the North American Reciprocal Museums page to see the rest of the list.

Presentation of a NMWA membership card validated with a North American Reciprocal Seal entitles you to the following privileges while visiting any of the participating museums. Valid only for goods and tickets purchased on premise. Reciprocal privileges do not include receiving mailings from any of the participating museums other than the National Museum of Women in the Arts. For more information, and a list of the 450-plus museums that participate in the reciprocal membership program, please visit the North American Reciprocal Museums site, call NMWA Services at (866) 875-4627 or email