National Museum of Women in the Arts Announces Major Gift of More Than 60 Artworks from Collection of Founders Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

A brightly lit basket of peaches and plums on a ledge against a dark background. To the left of the basket is a blue and white porcelain bowl filled with strawberries. A whole fig sits next to it. In front of the basket is half of a fig and to the right a branch with leaves and red berries.
Select works will be on view when renovated museum reopens in 2023

WASHINGTON—The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the world’s first major museum solely dedicated to championing women through the arts, has announced a major legacy gift of more than 60 works from the personal collection of the museum’s late founders, Wallace Holladay (1920–2012) and Wilhelmina Cole Holladay (1922–2021).

The gift includes paintings, prints and sculpture dating from the early 17th through the late 20th centuries. Among the treasures are works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Louise Bourgeois, Elizabeth Catlett, Sue Coe, Sonia Delaunay, Leonor Fini, Eva Gonzalès, Eva Hesse, Claude Raguet Hirst, Gwen John, Käthe Kollwitz, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Jane Peterson, Faith Ringgold and others.

“When Mrs. Holladay began collecting art with her husband in the 1970s, she made a rare and bold choice to focus on art by women,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “Her historic direction led to opening NMWA to the public in 1987. Now, 35 years later, these works have come full circle to reside with the museum she founded, dedicated to the cause she deeply supported.”       

The Holladays gave more than 400 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings to the museum when it opened and continuously donated art to the museum over their lifetimes. Along with their founding vision for the museum, the art they collected became the bedrock of the institution.

The museum is currently undergoing a major renovation, and plans are underway to incorporate selected works from this bequest into the updated and expanded galleries. NMWA’s building will reopen in fall 2023, revealing upgraded exhibition spaces, re-envisioned public programming areas and improved amenities and accessibility for visitors. Closed to the public in August 2021, NMWA will announce further details about its fall 2023 reopening early next year.

Highlights from the bequest include:

A light-skinned woman with brown hair wears an ivory gown and matching hat with a blue flower at the dress neckline. She is sitting with her hands in her lap, looking at the viewer with a pleasant smile.
Eva Gonzalès, Portrait of a Woman in White, 1879; 48 1/4 x 41 in.; Oil on canvas; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth
A bronze statue of a woman who gently steps forward, hand on hip. Her form stylized and geometric, and she wears a dress or skirt that gathers across her legs as if pulled by a breeze. Her face is simplified, upturned, and her hair is styled in a high bun.
Elizabeth Catlett, Stepping Out, 2000; Bronze, 33 1/2 x 8 x 8 1/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; © 2022 Mora-Catlett Family / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo by Lee Stalsworth
A closely cropped painting shows the face of a light-skinned woman against a blue background, gazing slightly to the side. She has brown hair contained by a cap or bonnet, and her age is implied by wrinkles crossing her broad forehead.
Paula Modersohn-Becker, Head of an Old Peasant, ca. 1903; Oil on panel, 18 x 17 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth
Against a loosely painted purple-pink background, a girl with light skin tone and long light-brown hair stands with her hands clasped, looking directly out at the viewer.
Gwen John, La Petite Modèle, 1915-20; Oil on canvas, 29 1/4 x 26 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth
A brightly lit basket of peaches and plums on a ledge against a dark background. To the left of the basket is a blue and white porcelain bowl filled with strawberries. A whole fig sits next to it. In front of the basket is half of a fig and to the right a branch with leaves and red berries.
Louise Moillon, Still Life with Basket of Plums, Peaches, Cherries and Redcurrants, Together with Fraise-de-Bois in a Porcelain Bowl, Figs and Mulberries on a Wooden Ledge, ca. 1630; Oil on canvas, 23 x 32 1/4 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Select images and a full list of works in the bequest are available upon request.

About the National Museum of Women in the Arts

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts. With its collections, exhibitions, programs and online content, the museum inspires dynamic exchanges about art and ideas. NMWA advocates for better representation of women artists and serves as a vital center for thought leadership, community engagement and social change. NMWA addresses the gender imbalance in the presentation of art by bringing to light important women artists of the past while promoting great women artists working today. The collections highlight painting, sculpture, photography and video by artists including Louise Bourgeois, Mary Cassatt, Judy Chicago, Frida Kahlo, Shirin Neshat, Faith Ringgold, Pipilotti Rist, Amy Sherald and Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun.

The museum building is closed for a major renovation, with plans to reopen in fall 2023. Visit nmwa.org/renovation for more information. During the building closure, NMWA continues its mission-based work and engages supporters and friends through a dynamic slate of online programs and events, off-site and virtual exhibitions, and digital content. For information, call 202-783-5000, visit nmwa.org, Broad Strokes blog, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.