National Museum of Women in the Arts To Close For Two Years During Major Renovations

  • WASHINGTON, DC
  • /
  • May 17, 2021

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National Museum of Women in the Arts exterior, 13th Street and New York Avenue; Photo by Thomas H. Field

The National Museum of Women in Arts (NMWA), the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to championing women artists, announced a plan for the comprehensive renovation of the museum’s historic building at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, in Washington, D.C. State-of-the-art upgrades to the museum’s home, a 1908 Classical Revival structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will expand NMWA’s exhibition space and enhance its programming, strengthening its work for years to come. The plan requires the building to close to the public beginning August 9, 2021. Construction will commence on September 1, 2021 and will be completed in approximately two years. 

The building’s first full renovation since 1987, the $66 million project will honor the structure’s history while improving its interior spaces, mechanical systems and exterior envelope. The long-planned updates include enlarged gallery space to showcase historic and contemporary artworks and installations; a new destination for researchers and education programs; and enhanced amenities and accessibility for visitors. Infrastructure and storage upgrades will bolster the long-term conservation and security of the museum’s collection of more than 5,500 works.

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“From its home in the nation’s capital, NMWA has given deserved prominence to groundbreaking women artists of the past and present for nearly 35 years, but the goal of equity for women through excellence in the arts has yet to be achieved,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “This renovation will ensure that the museum continues to promote the contributions of women artists in ways that engage audiences and advocates of tomorrow. Thanks to our founder Wilhelmina Cole Holladay and her husband Wallace—whose bold and ambitious vision led them to collect art by women and create a museum for its permanent display—our building is the center of a worldwide movement that champions women in, and through, the arts.”  

National Museum of Women in the Arts renovation project: exhibition gallery; Rendering by Sandra Vicchio & Associates, LLC, with Marshall Craft Associates, Inc.

Beginning in 2015, NMWA undertook a rigorous assessment of the historic building and created an extensive plan for renovations that apply recent advances in engineering, building codes and sustainability. The Baltimore-based architectural firm Sandra Vicchio & Associates was chosen to lead the project.

“It is a majestic structure—timeless and beautiful,” said Vicchio. “To protect the collection and enable NMWA to educate and engage the world more effectively, we must upgrade the building’s envelope, improve the performance of its systems and make better use of its interior space. Revitalizing the building is all about positioning the museum for a triumphant future.”

During the closure, NMWA will continue to offer a robust slate of online programs and events, virtual exhibitions and digital content. Plans are also underway to present off-site exhibitions and special events. Click here to see a schedule of upcoming events and online content.


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