For three days this week I was able to wander around any museum or gallery in D.C. I felt the urge to visit. It was a complete dream come true. Ever since I went there for the rally for women’s health in the Spring I’ve wanted to go back. That day held so many beautiful things, the museums, the memorials, even just the weather. We didn’t have any grass or flowers in Rochester at the time so going to D.C. was like a little slice of heaven.
Thanks to my amazing mother who brought me along for her work trip I had three straight days of art, art, art. The American Art Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Freer Gallery, Sackler Gallery, African Art Museum, and even more. I got to spend hours learning about and just enjoying inspiring work.
And among these museums I was able to go to one that I was incredibly excited about: The National Museum of Women in the Arts.
The building used to be a Masonic temple. The exterior is lovely, but the interior is breathtaking.
The NMWA is the only museum in the world that focuses exclusively on women artists. The museum heavily emphasizes the role of women in the arts and recognizes so many women artists who have largely been left in the dark.
This museum has been on my radar for a while, and when my mom agreed to bring me along with her to D.C. I knew it would be the first place I would visit.
So on a ridiculously hot Sunday morning I took the train from Silver Spring to Metro Center (Which was a stressful mess. I always hate using new train systems!), exited the station, and promptly became lost. Even though the museum is located only two blocks away I wandered around in the wrong direction for at least a half hour before realizing my mistake.
But when I finally found the museum and walked into a refreshing blast of cool air all of the stress melted away. And for a reasonable admission fee ($8 for students and seniors and $10 for everyone else. I didn’t have my ID with me but the woman in the gift shop very kindly charged me the student fee.) I walked into the gorgeous main hall and glimpsed some of the artwork I would enjoy that day.
This isn't a great photograph of their main hall. I didn't take as many photos that day as I would have liked. Hopefully this gets across some of the sense of how elegant the interior is!
There was work by Lavinia Fontana, Clara Peeters, Vigee-Lebrun, and more. It was incredible! I’ve only seen their work in books, slides, and on the all knowing internet. I rarely see work by these artists in museums, so to see their work all together was a very fun and unique experience! So often these women are not recognized by museums and art history textbooks for their contributions to the world of art, so it’s wonderful to see their work being recognized and applauded.
One of the areas open to the main hall.
Angelica Kauffman's Cumaean Sibyl (1763)
Not only was their collection of 16th-19th century work fantastic, they had more recent works from the 20th century onward. I saw work that day by O’Keeffe, Maria Izquierdo, Grace Hartigan, Lee Krasner, so many incredible artists. Their collection of paintings, drawings, prints, and more far exceeded my expectations. Everything is beautifully curated, they arrange works in a way that complimented each other wonderfully. They also manage to cover a range of styles and different artist backgrounds. It’s always great to see ethnic diversity in museums and it’s something that we should expect from more of them.
Elisabet Ney's Carrie Pease Graham (1895)