The museum’s landmark building is a 1908 Classical Revival-style structure initially constructed as a temple for the Masons. Significant renovations took place following the purchase of the building in 1983, but after decades of daily use, NMWA undertook an extensive process of assessments starting in 2015 and formed a plan for renovations to renew the building. There are several reasons for the renovation, including building codes and sustainability guidelines that have driven the need to update the building envelope and its mechanical systems. This renovation will also address key infrastructure issues and revive the museum’s beloved historic space, supporting its dynamism and innovation for years to come. Further, the museum aims to expand its capacity to present contemporary multimedia art, which requires up-to-date technology.
Based on the building’s architecture and the scope of the renovation plans, the museum’s leadership determined that closure is the best course of action to most efficiently and quickly complete the project. Fully closing the building for a limited time will enable the complete renewal that the structure requires.
NMWA’s Board of Trustees selected the principal consultants based on their expertise and experience with similar projects, including work in art museums and historic buildings in the District of Columbia. Additionally, as the National Museum of Women in the Arts, it was particularly important to champion women within the architectural industry to lead this transformational project.
The museum will reopen its doors this coming fall on October 21, 2023 with a community wide, free-for-all celebration.
After two years of construction related closure, NMWA will celebrate its “new” building with a free community day of activities and a ribbon cutting ceremony with distinguished guests. Returning museum visitors will be greeted with a brand new visitor entry experience, reinstalled collection galleries, and the reopening special exhibition, Sky’s the Limit. Further details will be shared in early fall.
Yes. New passenger elevators will serve all levels of the building from the main level. Throughout the building, spaces, systems, and fixtures will be renovated or replaced to meet ADA compliance requirements and fulfill NMWA’s commitment to making the museum a more accessible and inclusive space for all.
Yes. Select collection objects will be on view in special exhibitions in the United States and abroad, and others will be on view closer to home, at art museums and cultural institutions in the Washington, D.C., area. NMWA will share news and updates about works from the museum’s collection on view around the world via our website and social media.
During the closure, NMWA will continue to offer a robust slate of online programs and events, virtual exhibitions, and digital content. Plans are also underway to present off-site exhibitions and special events. To see a schedule of upcoming events and online content, view our upcoming events.
Members will continue to play a vital role at the museum. Local members will receive invitations to events and programs in person throughout D.C., presented through special partnerships with local organizations. Members-only events will continue, including member preview day, artist studio tours, pop-up events, Circles programming, and virtual events. Member discounts to public events, including Women, Arts, and Social Change programming, will continue. Learn more about membership.
NMWA’s Museum Shop will not have a physical presence during the renovation but will continue to carry a fresh and rotating selection of products online. The refreshed online shop has become a destination for audiences supporting the museum through purchases of products created by women and women-led brands. The shop will continue to promote the amazing women, stories, and businesses behind its products throughout the renovation.
The museum’s current capital campaign goal is $67.5 million. Building on the campaign’s robust launch, NMWA will continue to solicit gifts throughout the life of the campaign to help cover expenses.
The museum’s capital campaign is directed by a Steering Committee of NMWA trustees, advisors, and senior museum staff. The committee’s members are listed below. For the feasibility study and the first year of the campaign, NMWA partnered with CCS Fundraising. Together, they created a strategic fundraising plan to ensure the success of this major capital campaign for NMWA’s transformative restoration project.
Honorary Campaign Co-Chairs
- Wilhelmina Cole Holladay*, Founder and Chair of the Board
- Jacqueline Badger Mars, Board Member
Campaign Steering Committee
- Charlotte Buxton, Board Member
- Marcia Myers Carlucci, Board Member (Building Chair)
- Martha Dippell, President of the Board
- Nancy Duber, Board Member (Nominating Chair)
- Winton S. Holladay, Vice Chair of the Board
- Stephanie Sale, Board Member
- Denise Littlefield Sobel, NMWA Advisory Board Member
- Nancy Stevenson, Board Member (Works of Art Chair)
- Amy Weiss, Board Member (Communications Chair)
- Patti White, Board Member
- Susan Fisher Sterling, The Alice West Director
- Lucy M. Buchanan Garrett, Development Consultant
*On March 6, 2021, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay passed away at age 98.