Members Share Their Memories

We are always looking for ways to celebrate members, such a vital part of NMWA!We have been collecting memories of NMWA from members (the “Members’ Memories Project”) and have already shared many wonderful stories in the NMWA magazine. Here is another delightful selection from the hundreds of responses we have received. Inspired? Share your memories via email to

“Sometime in, I think, late ’84, I received a letter asking for help in starting a Women’s Art Museum. At that time, I was a College Instructor (not yet any kind of Professor) so needless to say, money was tight. It took me a couple of months to scrounge up $50 which I sent in January of 1985. Some months later I received another letter about having found a site, a former gentleman’s club. Again help was needed. Again I managed another donation. (would that I were rich–but alas–.) Anyway, that’s how I became a member. In the late ’80’s I was in Washington for an abortion rally/march, and visited the museum. I was stunned by the beauty of the building and all that pink marble! Wow!”

“Mrs. Holladay came to the art center in Iowa for which I was the Director (the Octagon Center for the Arts) in 1984 as a speaker for the national symposium “Women in Clay.” She shared her dreams and plans for a Women’s Museum. She and I prepared and shared a spaghetti dinner in my home for the featured artists: Lucy Lewis, Santana Martinez, Beatrice Wood, Ruth Duchworth, Vivica Huno and Laura Anderson. Many of us in Iowa became charter members of the Women’s Museum and it has been an educational inspiration for me ever since!”

“I became a charter NMWA member when the AAUW launched a campaign to support establishment of a National Museum of Women in the Arts. Frankly, due to my location in Kansas farm and ranch land, I doubted I would ever have opportunity to view the museum honoring and showcasing women’s contributions to art, but my spirit was bouyed just knowing America had such an entity, as I renewed my membership year after year. Amazingly, quite some time later, I was appointed to a national committee which met in Washington, D.C. My first excursion after checking into my hotel room was, with maps in hand, to locate the elegant NMWA building and to tour its wonderful exhibits. Since that first visit, I have been privileged to travel to our nation’s capitol several times (partly due to having a daughter who became a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Dept., and whom I have had the delight of treating to lunch at NMWA). On each occasion, leading my list of places to visit is NMWA. ‘Thank you’ to all who had the vision and dedication to establish such a wonderful institution in such an historic venue. I wish every woman in the U.S. who loves art could visit it.”

“Anytime I go to Washington, D.C. I always go to the Museum–my friends and relatives know that it will be on my list! When I heard that the Museum of Women in the Arts was going to become a reality, I joined as a charter member and gave my mother a membership also. My mother became an art teacher in high school and built a program from one class to 7 classes per day. She also started an art association in her home town. Before she died I had the thrill of going to the Museum with her and having our photo taken looking at a book which included our names as charter member contributors. I enjoy introducing family and friends to the museum and its programs and exhibits.”

“When the idea of a women’s museum was announced, I was a working artist in the Washington, D.C. area (the Arlington Arts Center, studio). Lots of us were afraid we women artists would be further marginalized–but we have been thrilled over the years with the wonderful space and exhibitions! Hurray for N.M.W.A.”