The National Museum of Women in the Arts hosts grand reopening
After closing in 2021 for renovations, the museum reopened to the public in October
The National Museum of Women in the Arts in D.C. held its grand reopening on Oct. 21 after closing for renovations in 2021.
The museum focuses on highlighting archival and contemporary women artists, whose work has been historically underrepresented in museums. Upon reopening, the museum is showcasing a variety of new exhibitions and additions to the building’s interior space.
The building’s remodel was its first since 1987 and it added 2,500 square feet of gallery space to the layout. The museum also added new features, such as a library research center with reading rooms, a Learning Commons and an education studio for interactive performances and exhibitions. Multiple installations that include newly acquired pieces and long-held works in the museum’s collections accompany the reopening.
Elizabeth Ajunwa, the library director for NMWA’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, said she has enjoyed getting to see visitors interact with the new space and features after being closed to the public for so long.
“It’s exciting,” she said in an interview with The Eagle. “We’re just excited to get started and show a new side of the museum. We’re definitely excited to do programming and activate the space.”
As library director, Ajunwa said she helps museum visitors navigate the research and archive materials that the Library and Research Center has made available to the public. According to Ajunwa, the museum has created the reading room space in order to allow researchers to access and utilize the extensive collections of artists’ books in the museum’s possession.
“I’m definitely hoping to have people engage with the materials more so that they’re not just always in the back and people can see them and learn about them,” she said.
Visitors who returned to the museum since its reopening got to explore the new space that showcases exhibitions. Susan Stout, a D.C. resident, had been to the museum prior to the renovation and decided to attend the reopening with her cousin when she saw the announcement.
“The space that they’ve created is just incredible in terms of displaying this art,” she said. “I love this — it’s a real treat.”
The museum’s current exhibitions include “The Sky’s the Limit,” which showcases a series of dangling sculptures, “Remix: The Collection” which includes recent acquisitions and long-housed works, “Hung Liu: Making History” which displays prints and paintings by artist Hung Liu and “Holding Ground: Artists’ Books for the National Museum of Women in the Arts.”
According to Ajunwa, those looking to visit the museum should take special care to visit “Holding Ground.” As part of this exhibit, nine book artists created works specifically to be housed in the gallery next to the museum’s Library and Research Center. The artists were tasked with interpreting NMWA’s mission to represent in their artwork. Some of the featured works include “Blossom Again” by Adjoa J. Burrowes, “In Bloom” by Suzanne Coley and “Many Hands” by Julie Chen.
Stout said she has a particular fondness for the museum because of its mission to highlight women artists.
“Women artists are generally unknown to many of us,” she said. “I think pulling out new generations and seeing what they think about things is important.”
This article was edited by Abigail Hatting, Zoe Bell, Jordan Young and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Luna Jinks.