National Museum of Women in the Arts. (Courtesy Thomas H. Field)

The National Museum of Women in the Arts has raised more than $25 million in the past six years, reaching its goal of doubling a $25 million endowment by the museum’s 25th anniversary.

The idea of pursuing the $50 million goal during difficult economic times was a daunting one, but a museum director, Susan Fisher Sterling, said the timing “made a lot of sense.” After all, she said, “a museum only has its 25th anniversary once.”

“When the museum began 25 years ago, we had no endowment,” said Sterling, who said the money will provide “a safety net,” as well as enabling the museum to do more advocacy for women and girls in the arts and increase its visibility.

The museum is the only one in the world dedicated solely to the work of female artists.

Carol Lascaris, endowment co-chair along with her husband, Climis, said the recession forced fundraisers “to be creative.”

“I think that the very fact that we have been so successful is because this museum is really different,” she said. “People really do believe that it has a mission that needs to be addressed.”

She quoted museum co-founder Wilhelmina Cole Holladay: “One of her great expressions is, ‘People love Picasso because they know Picasso.’ We have to educate people.”

Lascaris’s conversations with donors, she said, have shown her that “there have been many, many people that feel like this museum has a home in our nation’s capital, that it’s unique in the world.”