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Celebrating Women’s History Month – Women in the Arts

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In the 1960s, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, the founder of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, began collecting art at the same time as art historians were looking at the lack of representation of racial, ethnic groups, and women in museums. Over the next twenty years, Holladay collected many more pieces of artwork to add to her collection, until, in 1981, she founded a non-profit museum to display all of the art she had collected over the years. For the next six years, the museum exhibits were held in temporary locations; and in 1987, the NMWA finally opened its first permanent exhibit, American Women Artists, 1830-1930, at its new location near the White House in Washington, D.C.

Since its opening twenty-five years ago, the NMWA aims its exhibitions at the “comprehensive study of women artists.” While the museum includes American artists in their exhibitions, the NMWA also displays artwork by immigrant artists as well, such as Louise Bourgeois, a French painter and sculptor who was born in Paris, France, but eventually married the American art historian Robert Goldwater and moved to New York City. During her first decade in the United States, Bourgeois focused on painting and drawing, but eventually began to gravitate toward sculpture. Her art is characterized by the high contrast of its content: male and female, light and dark. Her use of high contrast evokes strong emotions from the viewers. She first received recognition as an artist at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and since then, she has been featured throughout Europe and the United States.

It is no wonder that the NMWA has included Louise Bourgeois in its exhibitions. It is the NMWA’s goal to bring attention to the work of women of all nationalities and periods. The NMWA also strives to teach the public about the accomplishments of all of the great women whose work is shown in its galleries, by displaying a permanent exhibitions, showing special exhibitions, retaining a Library and Research Center, organizing educational programs for the community, and by publishing a quarterly magazine and books about female artists. The NMWA also supports a number of international and state committees. By displaying so many great pieces of art from women artists, the NMWA brings attention to the women artists around the world.

For more information about the museum, click here.

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