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Welcome to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to recognizing the contributions of women artists.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts was incorporated in November 1981 as a private, non-profit museum. During its first five years, NMWA operated from temporary offices with docent-led tours of the collection at the Holladay residence. Special exhibitions also were presented. In 1983 the museum purchased a 78,810-square-foot Washington DC landmark near the White House, formerly a Masonic Temple, and refurbished it in accordance with the highest design, museum, and security standards. It won numerous architectural awards. In the spring of 1987, NMWA opened the doors of its permanent location with the inaugural exhibition American Women Artists, 1830-1930.
The permanent collection comprised of more than 3,000 works provides a comprehensive survey of art by women from the 16th century to the present, with new acquisitions added regularly. The work in the collection represents a wide range of styles and media—from the Renaissance paintings of Elisabetta Sirani to modern photographs by Barbara Morgan to Louise Nevelson’s contemporary sculptures. NMWA also has several important special collections, including silver by 18th and 19th-century Irish and English women silversmiths.
The Library and Research Center aims to educate and inform the public about the contributions of women to the visual arts by sharing its resources with library users and visitors. The Library’s resources include more than 18,500 volumes of books and exhibition catalogues, 50 periodicals, 300 videotapes and 100 audiotapes, as well as more than 650 artists’ books . Our Archives on Women Artists contains more than 18,000 files on women artists of all periods and nationalities, plus a number of special collections, including artists’ papers. The Library also curates special exhibitions related to the book arts.
1250 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005-3970
Monday-Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: noon - 5:00 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day
All public areas of the museum are wheelchair accessible. A limited number of wheelchairs and strollers are available at the security guard’s desk for use within the museum. A large-print edition of the permanent collection wall text is available at the information desk.
The Mezzanine Café, surrounded by works from the museum’s permanent collection, offers visitors a relaxing place to eat lunch. Choose from a seasonal menu of appetizers and soups, salads, gourmet sandwiches, a daily entrée, and delicious desserts. With prior arrangement, the Café staff can also arrange breakfasts, private lunches, and afternoon teas. Call 202-628-1068 for reservations. Open weekdays: 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Special guided tours for groups of up to 40 people are offered by appointment. For larger groups, the museum can provide a lecture followed by a walk through the galleries with museum docents. Brief walk-in tours are offered throughout the week when guides are available. Check with the Information Desk when you arrive. The museum also offers special tour packages that include lunch or tea; to arrange for one, call the Special Events office at 202-783-7988.
Works in the permanent collection may be photographed with available light; flash photography, tripods, extension cords, and other special equipment are not permitted. No photography of special exhibitions or works of art on loan to the museum is allowed.