Sunday, April 22, 2007
WHAT: The 78,810-square-foot facility is the country's only museum dedicated solely to women artists. The nearest comparable facility is Frauen Museum in Bonn, Germany.
WHERE: 1250 New York Ave. NW, at 13th and H streets.
HISTORY: The 1907 Renaissance Revival building was used as a Masonic temple and a kung fu movie house before the museum bought it in 1983. The museum opened its doors April 7, 1987, with the exhibition "American Women Artists, 1830-1930."
LEADERS: Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, an art collector, founded it in 1981. Judy L. Larson, formerly of the Art Museum of Western Virginia, has served as director since 2002.
STRENGTHS: Its permanent collection includes over 3,600 pieces by more than 800 artists. Prized possessions include paintings by Lavinia Fontana, Frida Kahlo and Lee Krasner, sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, Kathe Kollwitz and Louise Nevelson, works on paper by Mary Cassatt and photographs by Lola Alvarez Bravo, Imogen Cunningham and Carrie Mae Weems.
WEAKNESSES: The museum lacks any work by Artemisia Gentileschi, perhaps the first great female artist in the European tradition, and few other classic names are held in depth. Though it is acquiring contemporary pieces, it doesn't have deep holdings in any of today's biggest names -- Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker and the like. It has never held major exhibitions of such figures, who often prefer to show in less specialized museums.
EDUCATION: The museum's Library and Research Center includes 18,500 books and publications. Its Web site hosts a catalogue of the collection, and the museum is developing a comprehensive database of women artists.
SPECIAL EVENTS: Admission is free the first Sunday of each month. The museum hosts concerts, films, family programs, literary events and lectures.
FAMOUS VISITORS: The list includes Princess Diana, Sean Connery, Laura Bush and Nelson Mandela.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1.2 million people have visited the museum. In its 20-year history, the museum has presented more than 200 exhibitions. It has more than 30,000 members.
VISIT: Admission is $10 adults, $8 students and seniors, free for members and those 18 and under. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. 202-783-5000 or http://www.nmwa.org.
-- Rachel Beckman