The Washington Post

Party Diary: The National Museum of Women in the Arts’ spring gala

It was Annie’s gala on Friday night. That would be Annie S. Totah, the perfectly coiffed and persistently quipping philanthropist who chaired the National Museum of Women in the Art’s spring gala with all the energy of ring master — and even a match-maker. Themed “Nine Thousand and Nine Hundred Nights,” Totah winked at us when asked how this year’s gala would be different. “We have entertainment,” she said with a knowing smile. “You’ll see.”

And we saw. Belly dancers were scattered throughout the yellow and teal tables in the museum’s grand foyer. One patron, apparently unfazed by sheer awesomeness of it all, asked a dancer if she could point her to her table. Later, Totah, who to the delight of the night’s 380 guests rarely let go of the mic, asked Bulgaria’s foreign affairs minister, Kristian Vigenin — a very handsome man, she noted —  whether he was married. When he replied yes, pointing to his wife, Totah didn’t skip a beat. Tsking a too bad, she said, “I was going to introduce him to the beautiful women in the Young pARTners Circle,” who sat at tables in the mezzanine overlooking their future as art patrons.

The gala’s honorary chair, Her Imperial Majesty Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran, is a close friend of Totah’s, so she probably didn’t mind handing over the reins.

“Annie has brought an amazing energy and dynamism to the evening that we’ve never had before,” said Winton Holladay, president of the National Museum of Women in the Arts board and the daughter-in-law of Wilhelmina Holladay, a co-founder of the museum.

And the energy was far from fading. Tomorrow was Saturday, Totah reminded everyone. “We’ll be here dancing until midnight.”

RELATED: “Holladay founded National Museum of Women in the Arts, now she’s working on its legacy

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Helena Andrews-Dyer is the co-author of The Reliable Source. Follow her on Twitter @helena_andrews, and send your hot tips, sightings, and gossip to



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Helena Andrews-Dyer · April 25, 2014

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