Urgent Museum Notice

The Guerrilla Girls Talk Back: Exhibited by the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Reclining light skinned nude woman seen from behind wearing a gorilla mask on bright yellow background. Large black text reads, "Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?" Smaller black and red text reads, "Less than 3% of artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 83% of the nudes are female."

WASHINGTON—The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) presents The Guerrilla Girls Talk Back, an exhibition featuring more than 70 works by the gorilla-masked crusaders, including posters, newsletters, stickers and erasers.  

The Guerrilla Girls, a group of anonymous artist-activists, critique the sexism and racism pervading contemporary culture. Through their populist art production, the group raises awareness about discrimination.

Drawn primarily from NMWA’s collection, the exhibition presents posters from two portfolios, Guerrilla Girls Talk Back: The First Five Years, 1985–1990 and Guerrilla Girls Talk Back: Portfolio 2, both donated to the museum by Baltimore-based collector Steven Scott.

The first Guerrilla Girls posters appeared in 1985, pasted onto structures in lower Manhattan. Combining bold advertising-style graphics with eye-opening facts and figures, the posters detailed discrimination by the city’s art galleries against women artists and artists of color. Since then, the group has produced scores of posters, billboards, and books to promote inclusiveness in the cultural and political realms.

Humor is a vital part of the Guerrilla Girls’s art, making the serious messages of their works accessible and engaging. In addition to the wry texts in their printed materials, members of the group wear gorilla masks that protect their anonymity during the lectures and actions/protests that they present worldwide. The group produces their works in quantity to reach a broad audience.

Over the years, the Guerrilla Girls have broadened their range of targets for critique to include sexism and racism in Hollywood and the mass media; art censorship; government corruption and apathy; and the battle for reproductive rights.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), founded in 1981 and opened in 1987, is the only museum solely dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing and literary arts. The museum’s permanent collection features 4,000 works from the 16th century to the present created by more than 800 artists; including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Alma Thomas, Lee Krasner, Louise Bourgeois, and Chakaia Booker along with special collections of 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. It is open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, noon–5 p.m. For information, call 202-783-5000 or visit nmwa.org. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for visitors 65 and over and students, and free for NMWA Members and youth 18 and under.