A Dozen Fun Facts about NMWA

Chakaia Booker, Acid Rain, 2001; Rubber tires and wood; 120 x 240 x 36 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts; Members’ Acquisition Fund

1. Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky, 1937, is the only Kahlo on view in Washington, D.C.

2. Chakaia Booker’s Acid Rain is among the largest and heaviest works in the museum’s collection, weighing in at over a ton! The piece is so large it had to be installed in 12 sections that weigh about 200 pounds each!

3. Before Barbara Bush cut the ribbon to open NMWA officially to the public on April 7, 1987, in its current New York Avenue home, the museum initially was housed in living founder Wilhemina Cole Holladay’s home in Georgetown.

4. Built in 1907 by architect Waddy Wood,  NMWA’s New York Avenue landmark building originally served as the National Masonic Temple. Ironically, this secret society, did not and does not accept women members.

5. A tie to the Royal Wedding: Princess Diana visited NMWA when she attended the American Red Cross gala in June of 1997, just a few months before her untimely death.

6. The New York Avenue Sculpture Project is the first and only major outdoor sculpture corridor in our nation’s capital by women. Come and check out the larger-than-life colorful sculptures of the first selected artist, Niki de Saint Phalle, through October 2011!

7. NMWA collection spans from the 16th century to present. Diana Ghisi’s (also Diana Scultori) Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (after Giulio Romano), 1575, is NMWA’s earliest work in the collection. The earliest work on view is Lavinia Fontana’s Portrait of a Noblewoman, c. 1580.

8. Got bookworks? NMWA does! With over 1000 artists’ books in our collection, NMWA is a leader in the promotion of artists’ books as an art form. NMWA is one of the only museums that since its inception has collected and exhibited artists’ books.

Clara Peeters, “Still Life of Fish and Cat,” n.d, Oil on panek, 13 1/2 x 18 1/2 in.

9. It was the work of 17th century Flemish artist Clara Peeters in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna that sparked the interest of recognizing women artists for Mr. and Mrs. Holladay.

10. Clara® is NMWA’s unique interactive database containing authoritative information on 18,000 women visual artists of all time periods and nationalities.

11. According to The Washington Post,  before becoming home to NWMA, the building was used by the Town Theatre, which premiered films including “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “La Dolce Vita,” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and “Topaz.”

12. When, in 1994, South African artist Esther Mahlangu created a mural and unveiled a BMW art car she painted, Maya Angelou spoke at the exhibition’s opening, Nelson Mandela came by for a private tour, and NMWA was featured in AutoWeek magazine!

–Laura Hoffman is the Education Intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts and a graduate student at The George Washington University.

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