NMWA @ Home: Creative Coping with Christina Knowles and Lori Brubaker Morales

As NMWA remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19, along with other museums and cultural institutions around the world, we’ve been diligently working to bring the museum to you at home. In this series, we’ll check in with NMWA staff in their own homes for a personal look at the creative ways they’re staying connected, inspired, and grounded.

Do you have recommendations? Let us know in the comments below or share on social media @WomenInTheArts!

Christina Knowles, director of development, annual giving, and membership

Renewing: Time seems to be standing still, yet the view from my window tells me otherwise. Nature is generously reminding me that a new season is just ahead. The green nubs along my front walk have unfurled into buoyant Hostas, tempting the deer that call our street home. My favorite blended Camellia tree has almost run its cycle with chipmunks gathering up the pink petals and feasting on them like cotton candy.

Camellia flower; Photo by Christina Knowles

Observing: The season unfolding is a daily meditation in seeing. Taking inspiration from Maria Sibylla Merian, I strive to hone the discipline of an observant eye and share her reverence for the magnificent architecture of the natural world. I strongly recommend her book Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis.

Reading: As someone who appreciates a hand-written letter, I enjoy absorbing history through the intimate lens of individuals who put pen to paper. Letters of the Century: America 1900–1999 includes letters from inspiring women like Elaine de Kooning, Amelia Earhart, and Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe writes to art critic and friend Henry McBride, “The daylight is coming Henry McBride—I am going up on the roof and watch it come—we do such things here without being thought crazy—it is nice—isn’t it.”


Lori Brubaker Morales, director of special events

Reflecting: For the first time in ages, I am in tune with spring. I recall being a young girl skipping home from school with the warm sun on my face, the birds chirping in the trees, the smell of the earth waking from winter. I was a child without a care in the world. Creation is speaking to me again. These memories remind me of a favorite poem by Emily Dickinson, “I have a Bird in spring.” I have rediscovered the beauty in her words.

Learning: Artist Rosa Bonheur’s powerful work is a favorite. Over the last weeks, I have read about her life. Like us, she was social distancing. At ten years old, she endured the cholera epidemic that swept through France—with no technology or modern conveniences. Surely, the struggle was great.

Rosa Bonheur, Sheep by the Sea, 1865; Oil on cradled panel, 12 3/4 x 18 in.; NMWA, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Creating: Recently, I decided to bring out favorite dishes made by my mom and grandmothers. From my mom’s recipe file, I made her refreshing mandarin salad with sesame dressing, and from Grandma Brubakers’s catalog, I cooked up her famous Pennsylvania Dutch spare ribs with sauerkraut.

Energizing: Having loaded up on enough comfort foods and television for a lifetime, I designed my own dance-based exercise routine. If anyone saw me they’d laugh, but I am having fun dancing to Ella Fitzgerald, David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, Blondie, and Heart, just to name a few! As David Bowie sings, “Let’s dance!”

NMWA @ Home: Creative Coping with Carolyn Higgins and Fiona McNally

As NMWA remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19, along with other museums and cultural institutions around the world, we’ve been diligently working to bring the museum to you at home. In this series, we’ll check in with NMWA staff in their own homes for a personal look at the creative ways they’re staying connected, inspired, and grounded.

Do you have recommendations? Let us know in the comments below or share on social media @WomenInTheArts!

Carolyn Higgins, senior membership manager

Reading: Along with Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, I’m reading several historical biographies, from Rodin to Queen Victoria. And I now have time to enjoy all the magazines I subscribe to: Bon Appétit, Martha Stewart Living, and National Geographic!

Creating: I love adult paint-by-numbers. They take time, but are very calming.

Carolyn Higgins channels the floral still-lifes of Rachel Ruysch and Clara Peeters in her paint-by-numbers piece

Cooking: My mother and sister taught me to cook, and since we can’t be together physically, we’ve been calling to talk about what we’re making. It’s so therapeutic. I’m experimenting with new recipes, including bread and sweets, to share when friends “social distance visit” through the window.

Listening: I’ve been dancing around my apartment to Lady Gaga and Beyoncé—they’re like coworkers now. I also do calming guided mediations with jellyfish via Monterey Bay Aquarium’s YouTube channel.

Inspiration: I’m using this time to check in with longtime museum Charter Members. These calls are so uplifting. NMWA @ Home has also been helpful. I look forward to “Art Fix Friday” to see what women in the arts are doing around the world. And I love examining floral works in the museum’s online collection, from Alma Thomas to Amy Lamb. There are so many amazing details in Rachel Ruysch’s paintings. Try to count the bugs!

Maintaining Perspective: My 92-year-old grandmother and I speak regularly. She has survived so much in her long life. While she says this is the craziest thing she’s experienced, she remains in great spirits and reassures me that we will get through this even stronger.


Fiona McNally, development officer, events and partnerships

Reading and Watching: A friend started a virtual “Quarantine Book Club.” We’re reading Elizabeth Wetmore’s first novel Valentine. I’m finishing Sally Rooney’s Normal People and eagerly anticipate its upcoming TV adaptation. I’m also enjoying Hulu’s mini-series based on Celeste Ng’s wonderful book Little Fires Everywhere. Otherwise, I limit my TV viewing to comedies like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Schitt’s Creek.

Making: Cooking is my escape. I’m following recipes from Alison Roman and another favorite home-chef, Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman.

Fiona Murray’s “Lemony Tumeric Tea Cake”; Recipe by Alison Roman

Supporting: It’s inspiring to see museums, performing arts organizations, and nonprofit institutions creatively engage with supporters digitally, even as they’ve had to cancel exhibitions, conferences, or entire performance seasons. I’ve been able to donate to D.C.’s Arena Stage and Kennedy Center, West Virginia’s Contemporary American Theater Festival, and Rhode Island’s Highlander Institute, and hopefully those who are able will consider extending contributions to the organizations they care about.

Maintaining Perspective: I’m reaching out to loved ones across the country. Some have had to postpone weddings, change birth plans, or quarantine solo. I can’t wait to see people again—not just loved ones, but strangers on the bus, fellow movie theater-goers, and everyone at D.C.’s music venues. There’s much to look forward to when this ends.

NMWA @ Home: Creative Coping with Melani N. Douglass and Orin Zahra

As NMWA remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19, along with other museums and cultural institutions around the world, we’ve been diligently working to bring the museum to you at home. In this series, we’ll check in with NMWA staff in their own homes for a personal look at the creative ways they’re staying connected, inspired, and grounded.

Do you have extra suggestions or recommendations for us? Let us know in the comments below or share on social media @WomenInTheArts!

Melani N. Douglass, director of public programs

Reading: I find comfort in books. I’ll have a recipe, poetry, research book, and a magazine going at the same time, plus a book that I read with my daughter. I also have books that are always in rotation—my staples.

Melani N. Douglass’s quarantine reading collection; Photo by Melani N. Douglass

The staples: These are always on the shelf, ready to add to any mental meal. Anything by J. California Cooper, Octavia Butler, Queen Afua, Twyla Tharp; Aperture magazine’s Vision & Justice issue, edited by Sarah Lewis; Eat Yourself Sexy by Lauren Von Der Pool; Rituals & Celebrations by B. Smith; You Should Have Been Here Yesterday by Elaine Eff

On the stove: What am I cooking with right now? High on the Hog by Jessica B. Harris; A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing by DaMaris B. Hill; Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

On the menu: What am I looking forward to? MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora; Ageless Vegan by Tracye and Mary McQuirter; Religion in the Kitchen by Elizabeth Pérez; Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs by Psyche A. Williams-Forson.

Exploring: I am in love with Colette Fu’s pop-up art books. The world’s current situation feels like a series of pop-up books with all kinds of characters, events, and dynamics unfolding in real time. Social media allows each person’s life, thoughts, and experiences to pop open, providing commentary and revealing much about the human condition. I especially enjoy Fu’s works Ashima, Stone Mountain and Dai Food from the series “We are Tiger Dragon People,” 2008–14.

Centering: Our mornings begin with Ama Chandra’s sound bath meditation on Facebook Live. Twice a week we take free Instagram Live dance classes with @therealDebbieAllen. After my little one is asleep, I join @ErykahBadu’s Quarantine Concert Series.


Orin Zahra, assistant curator

Reading: The exhibition catalogue for Indian Ocean Current: Six Artistic Narratives, a show at the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College that I was hoping to catch this spring. The exhibition showcases six contemporary artists with deep ties to the lands surrounding the Indian Ocean. These days, questions about relationships between humans, our territorial borders, and the planet seem all the more potent.

Exploring: I’ve enjoyed exploring online exhibitions and taking tours of landmarks and monuments abroad through Google Arts and Culture. In a time where physical travel has become impossible, virtually walking through Agra to see the Taj Mahal or the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles is a welcome escape.

Touring landmarks and monuments in NMWA’s collection is possible, too, with Candida Höfer’s The Palazzo Zenobio Venezia III, 2003; Chromogenic color print, 60 7/8 x 60 7/8 in.; NMWA, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © 2003 Candida Höfer/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Making: My family and I have been cooking up a storm, trying new recipes, getting creative with what’s on hand, and enjoying our meal times together.

Remembering: I have been reorganizing old photographs, which makes for many fun trips down memory lane—and laughing at the hairstyles of bygone days.

NMWA @ Home: Creative Coping with Lynora Williams and Adrienne Poon

A photograph of an in-progress, hand-stitched quilt, made from bright, vibrant colors including yellow, green, blue, pink, and red. Some squares appear tie-dyed, others are solid.

Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center Director Lynora Williams’s in-progress quilt; Photo by Lynora Williams

As NMWA remains temporarily closed due to COVID-19, along with other museums and cultural institutions around the world, we’ve been diligently working to bring the museum to you at home. In this series, we’ll check in with NMWA staff in their own homes for a personal look at the creative ways they’re staying connected, inspired, and grounded.

Do you have extra suggestions or recommendations for us? Let us know in the comments below or share on social media @WomenInTheArts!

Lynora Williams, director, Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center

Reading: Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, about the destruction of the Los Angeles Public Library by fire. It’s not exactly cheerful reading, but I’ve been trying to get to it for a while. I’m also enjoying Melanie Falick’s Making a Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You are Meant to Live—for inspiration, but mostly for the pictures! On my current reading list are also Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire and poet Dunya Mikhail’s In Her Feminine Sign. Can you tell I have a short attention span?

Making: I am hand-stitching a small quilt with hand-dyed fabrics—very meditative.

Watching: I’m occasionally watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Crown, and old sports events, like the 2006 Women’s NCAA Basketball Championship, a thriller won by (spoiler alert) the Maryland Terps.

Extra Inspiration: I am finding inspiration in other strong women. Right now I have what my colleague Emily Shaw calls a “social justice crush” on Ugandan feminist activist Stella Nyanzi, who was released from prison last month. She is mind-blowingly fierce.


Adrienne Poon, digital content coordinator

Grounding: On my last day before our temporary closure, I spent time with Spiritualist (1973) by Helen Frankenthaler. I stood for about 15 minutes, just looking and feeling an overwhelming sense of calm and awe. I don’t normally favor abstract expressionist works, so this experience was a complete surprise and delight! That memory—of how art can make you feel, how art can soothe, and how beautiful art can be—has been grounding for me even now that I’m not able to see it in person.

Helen Frankenthaler, Spiritualist, 1973, Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 60 in., Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

Helen Frankenthaler, Spiritualist, 1973; Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 60 x 1 1/4 in.; NMWA, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; © 2012 Estate of Helen Frankenthaler / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Reading: I love reading books written by former Fresh Talk speakers or featured in our library. They make me feel connected to a greater community of women artists and creators around the world. My favorites include The Poet X by Fresh Talk speaker Elizabeth Acevedo, and I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Gharib and Cook Korean! by Robin Ha, which were featured in our Library and Research Center’s recent exhibition DMV Color.

Connecting: I’ve also been turning to my friends and family for inspiration. This situation has spurred many of us to chat more regularly, which has been great. Additionally, I’ve always admired my friends who create things, and I’ve been even more intently following their creations—illustrated comic diaries, genre-bending music, textile weaving, watercolor painting, cardigan knitting, video producing, bread baking, and more. It has been so rewarding. I love cheering on my friends from afar.

Heavy Lifting: Behind the Scenes of The Contour of Feeling

Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling presents the artist’s monumental cedar wood sculptures alongside newer works for the first time. The poetic and expressive works, which also use leather, linen, and other organic materials, reveal the process by which von Rydingsvard gives outward visual form to her innermost ideas and emotions.


Gallery guards and educators hear a frequent question from visitors to the museum’s Ursula von Rydingsvard exhibition: how did you get these sculptures into the building? Many of the 26 cedar forms tower close to the ceiling and weigh hundreds of pounds. In fact, the sculpture Krypta I (2014), stands almost 11 feet high and weighs about 2,500 pounds. A conversation with NMWA Registrar Catherine Bade revealed the heavy lifting that occurred behind the scenes to bring The Contour of Feeling to life.

Road Trip

Most of the exhibition’s sculptures were sent on three large trucks from von Rydingsvard’s studio in Brooklyn, New York, to Washington, D.C. Timed to accommodate the museum’s public hours, its busy event schedule, and downtown D.C. street traffic, they arrived in the middle of the night and were carefully moved into the museum several weeks before the exhibition was scheduled to open.

Building Blocks

Due to their monumental size, the sculptures arrived disassembled into large sections in crates, and von Rydingsvard’s studio assistants came to help put them back together. Von Rydingsvard also includes a precise system of marks on the pieces themselves—some that are still visible on the finished sculptures—that help the installation team navigate assembly.

The Contour of Feeling Exhibition09

Installation view of Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling; Pictured left to right: For Natasha (2015), SCRATCH II (2015), Krypta I (2014), ten plates (2018) (back wall); Photo by Lee Stalsworth

For Natasha Install

Rigging equipment holds the final piece of For Natasha (2015); Photo by Neda Amouzadeh

Krypta Install + Natasha

Riggers work to install Krypta I (2014) and For Natasha (2015); Photo by Neda Amouzadeh

Ocean Floor_Unpacking

A section of Ocean Floor (1996) is unpacked in NMWA's Great Hall; Photo by Neda Amouzadeh

The Contour of Feeling Exhibition35

Installation view of Ocean Floor (1996), Zakopane (1987) (left), and little nothings (2000–15) (back wall); Photo by Lee Stalsworth

It Takes a Village

A team of 17 people, including NMWA’s registrars and exhibition designer, the registrar from the Fabric Workshop and Museum (organizers of the exhibition), fine art handlers, von Rydingsvard’s studio assistants, and the artist herself, worked approximately 100 hours to get the exhibition ready to open.

Wide Load

The biggest challenge of the installation was working with oversized pieces that were too big to fit into NMWA’s normal gallery space. To fit the wide, bowl-shaped Ocean Floor (1996), one of the gallery walls had to be cut back and getting it into the building’s freight elevator was a true feat of engineering.

An Art and a Science

Although von Rydingsvard’s sculptures look tough, their cedar wood and graphite materials are malleable, and the works—like all artworks—must be transported extremely carefully. “Rigging heavy sculptures is both an art and science,” Bade said. “Riggers can spend hours setting up the rigging and strapping the artwork before they actually move to install a piece.” They consider safety concerns specific to each sculpture, calculate the best angle for approach to the installation site, and test different lifts before final placement.

—Alicia Gregory is the assistant editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Modern Makers: Rose Jaffe

Q&A with Rose Jaffe, a D.C.-based artist and native Washingtonian whose multidisciplinary works feature women and community at the center. Her vibrant murals can be found around D.C., and now in the Museum Shop where a selection of her smaller works are also on sale.

Rose Jaffe and the NMWA mural, photo by Adriana Regalado

Rose Jaffe and the NMWA mural, photo by Adriana Regalado

What is the inspiration behind the NMWA murals?

I want my art to bring color, energy, light, and meaning to a space. The powerful and vibrant women around me inspire my work. I am intrigued by the lines of a face and the stories our bodies tell. By painting larger-than-life portraits of everyday women, I celebrate and honor their existence.

You work in a wide array of mediums—how have you become so versatile?

I have an insatiable appetite for learning and playing with new mediums. More than anything, I tire of paint after a certain point and want to switch it up. I am working on 3D forms now—sculpture, exploring more wood and metal. It’s very exciting to me. I love how art can exist in so many mediums, almost like languages, telling the same story.

What drives the strong thread of activism in your work?

I was lucky to be raised by socially aware parents who took me to marches and rallies in my youth. I stayed engaged in college, and joined an activist collective of artists upon returning to D.C., which influenced me to use my art for a purpose. Art is an amazing conduit for us to build community, create connections, and process and heal trauma. I am passionate about this and always learning how art can spread messages of social empowerment and social change.

Can you name a notable visit to NMWA?
I know I came as a kid, and I remember visiting after college. But my most memorable experience was attending a Fresh Talk featuring the artist Swoon. I got to meet her and fangirl a bit. I cannot express how amazing NMWA’s programming is—and how important the existence of this museum is.

Which women artists are you inspired by right now?

Oh, so many! Painter Lynnea Holland Weiss, artist-activist Kate DeCiccio, illustrator Sara Andreasson, and painter Jessalyn Brooks, to name a few.

Appreciating Architecture: #EmptyNMWA Instameet

More than 25 D.C.-area Instagrammers visited NMWA on June 17, 2016, for a before-hours Instameet. With access to the empty galleries, local photographers explored the museum’s building and collection, as well as the special exhibitions She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World and Alison Saar In Print. Attendees including @2020_productions snapped photographs of the event’s snacks, including cookies inspired by the building’s façade. Participants explored the building’s history through a staff-led tour while sharing their tagged photos on social media with #EmptyNMWA.


Left to right: @2020_productions photographs cookies; NMWA’s director of operations leads a tour

Gordon Umbarger, NMWA’s director of operations, explained the fascinating history behind the museum’s architecture. During an outdoor segment of the tour, attendees learned that Theodore Roosevelt laid the building’s cornerstone using the same gavel and trowel that George Washington used for the Capitol Building in 1793. @dc_explorer captured and shared this commonly overlooked feature.

Did you know that the building was first constructed as a Masonic temple in 1907 and women were not allowed entry? It seems fitting that today the building houses works by women artists! Visitors can detect traces of Masonic architecture around the museum. @korofina zoomed in on the building’s exterior frieze featuring the square and compass symbols. @buildings_of_dc captured the full building, which was designed in a Renaissance Revival style by prominent D.C. architect Waddy Wood, from a vantage point across street.

For additional income the Masons rented parts of the building to other local businesses, including George Washington University, a dentist, an insurance agent, and a uniform supply shop. The space hosted the Pix Theatre during the 1940s and early ’50s—until the Masons terminated the theater’s lease due to the sometimes racy nature of its movies. @kjhower1 captured decorative details that used to frame the movie screen.

In 1983, NMWA’s founders, Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay, purchased the space and opened the museum to the public in 1987. Ten years later, the museum opened an addition within an adjoining building. Formerly a “D.C. pleasure palace,” the building was renamed the Elisabeth A. Kasser Wing, and it now houses NMWA’s Museum Shop and sculpture gallery.

Participants found more Insta-worthy subjects inside the museum. @cczablotney snagged an incredible photo of the museum’s Great Hall and one of its iconic chandeliers while @kaitlyntward focused on the marble balustrades. @beingdave even observed the benches in the Great Hall designed by Florence Knoll. Visitors also ventured into the collection galleries and special exhibitions. @setarrra photographed another participant mirroring a photograph from Tanya Habjouqa’s “Women of Gaza” series, on view in She Who Tells a Story.

It was a fun and creative Instameet! To see all the event’s photos, check out the Storify compilation or browse #EmptyNMWA on Instagram. Follow @WomenInTheArts on Instagram and Twitter to learn about future Instameet opportunities.

—Casey Betts is the summer 2016 digital engagement intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Camera-Sly: #EmptyNMWA Instameet

On March 8, 2016, the museum hosted an #EmptyNMWA instameet (a gathering of Instagram photographers) in honor of International Women’s Day. NWMA welcomed 30 local instagrammers to visit the museum to tour and photograph the museum’s collection before public hours. Before the tour, attendees enjoyed refreshments on the museum’s Mezzanine—featuring staff-made cookies inspired by artwork from the collection.


Left to right: Collection-inspired cookies; #EmptyNMWA participants in the Great Hall

In the museum’s Great Hall, NMWA Associate Curator Virginia Treanor drew attendees into the history of women artists through a discussion about 17th-century painter Louise Moillon. Because Moillon had limited resources and was barred from life-drawing classes, her renderings of fruit were executed with more skill than her depictions of figures.

Treanor revealed stories about women artists who had successful careers—despite their barriers—but had been scrubbed from art history texts, like Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot. Many ’grammers were surprised to learn that while women make up 51% of visual artists today, only 5% of work on museum walls in the U.S. is by women. Others struggled to name five women artists, but felt confident by the time they shared the #5womenartists challenge on social media after the event.

Drawing inspiration from the museum’s building and collection, @aquinsta shared the museum’s iconic Frida Kahlo self-portrait, @flipflopcaravan marveled at NMWA’s architectural history as a Masonic temple (where women were not allowed entry), and @thisisjamesj chronicled the morning on his blog.

Capturing new views of collection favorites, @dccitygirl incorporated a phone as an additional lens in front of Mickalene Thomas’s A-E-I-O-U and Sometimes Y (2009), while @jww_color snapped a bird’s-eye view of Honor Freeman’s porcelain Tupperware.

Browse more than 150 spectacular images posted from the #EmptyNMWA instameet on Instagram and Storify. Follow @WomenInTheArts to hear about future opportunities. Until the next instameet, visit the museum and keep ‘gramming!

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

#Instameets @WomenInTheArts

In honor of International Women’s Day, NMWA will host an #EmptyNMWA instameet on Tuesday, March 8. An “instameet” is an opportunity for photographers to gather, meet, and snap pictures for Instagram. The museum will give 30 photographers a chance to explore and photograph the museum’s collection before public hours.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts hosted its first instameet on December 9, 2015, in collaboration with @IGDC, a community of photographers based in the D.C. metropolitan area. NWMA welcomed local instagrammers to visit the museum before it opened to the public to capture the special exhibition Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today.

NMWA Associate Curator Virginia Treanor guided 18 photographers through the exhibition and highlighted show-stopping works by midcentury and contemporary women designers while illuminating the artists’ processes—photographers enjoyed hearing about Polly Apfelbaum, who used a punch card as a stencil for her Handweaver’s Pattern Book installation (2014).


Left to right: @ksdirectional’s detail image, @saifahmed99’s photo

The event’s photographs captured the diversity of the dynamic women designers whose work was on view. Photographer @ksdirectional captured an amazing detail photo of Front Design’s Axor WaterDream/Axor Shower System (2014) and @saifahmed99’s installation shot of Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi’s Circle Dresses (ca. 1964) was chosen as the photo of the day by the #ACreativeDC feed. The instameet gave photographers the chance to see—and share—the exhibition from a new perspective.

2016-02-29 10_28_16-Steph on Instagram_ “After wandering with friends during the #pathmakersinstamee

@tappety’s post about Mickalene Thomas

After spending an hour exploring the exhibition with behind-the-scenes access, museum staff invited attendees to explore the museum’s collection. Many of the participants had never visited the museum before, but were inspired by NMWA’s diverse collection and the architecture of the Great Hall. One participant, @tappety, discovered Mickalene Thomas’s rhinestone-encrusted A-E-I-O-U (and Sometimes Y) during her tour of the third-floor galleries.

Browse the 100 stunning photos captured from the #PathmakersInstameet on Instagram. Apply here by noon on March 4 to have a chance to explore the museum’s empty collection galleries on International Women’s Day and enjoy a special collection highlights tour.

Stacy Meteer is the communications and marketing associate at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Go Global with Mary

Did you know that NMWA launched its first-ever online exhibition, A Global Icon: Mary in Context, in conjunction with Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea?

NMWA’s digital engagement and curatorial teams collaborated with the Google Cultural Institute to present an online collection of images of Mary from around the world. The museum has been working with Google since joining the Google Art Project in March and being a pilot partner in Chromecast Backdrop since October.


Take a tour of Mary in Context—the online exhibition is divided into six thematic sections that mirror Picturing Mary: Madonna and Child, Woman and Mother, Mother of the Crucified, Mary as Idea, A Singular Life, and Mary in the Life of Believers. Within each section, a short educational video introduces the theme, followed by a closer look into 3–4 artworks. Online visitors can examine these artworks in great detail and learn about Mary’s impact and significance to various cultures.

Left: Unknown artist, Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, 18th century; Wood, ivory, pigment, gilding, gessoed cloth, and silver, 25 7/8 x 27 x 10 1/4 in.; Brooklyn Museum, Frank L. Babbott Fund; inv. 42.384; Right: Unknown artist, Chapter 19 of Qur'an (Surat Maryam), 15th century; Ink and pigments on thin laid paper, 15 3/4 x 12 3/16 in.; Walters Art Museum; inv. W.563.274B

Left: Unknown artist, Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, 18th century; Wood, ivory, pigment, gilding, gessoed cloth, and silver, 25 7/8 x 27 x 10 1/4 in.; Brooklyn Museum, Frank L. Babbott Fund; inv. 42.384; Right: Unknown artist, Chapter 19 of Qur’an (Surat Maryam), 15th century; Ink and pigments on thin laid paper, 15 3/4 x 12 3/16 in.; Walters Art Museum; inv. W.563.274B

Echoing Picturing Mary, the online exhibition provides a historical context of the Virgin Mary, highlighting artwork spanning the 12th–19th centuries. These images represent a wide array of artwork about Mary, including the Black Madonna and Our Lady of Guadalupe. The online exhibition was curated to include a diverse range of mediums—from Chinese porcelain to Indian manuscripts to African pendants.


Explore near or far! Check out the online exhibition and NMWA’s other online features, including an interactive preview of Picturing Mary and a YouTube playlist of related videos about Mary from Khan Academy’s Smarthistory, from the comfort of your home or at NMWA. These digital offerings are now available in the museum’s galleries for the first time.

—Laura Hoffman is the Manager of Digital Engagement at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.