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Bayside, New York
March 14, 2007
The building itself is quite a model of Renaissance Revival architecture, and the interior exudes lavish sophistication with pinkish marble flooring and marble staircases. The chandeliers in the Great Hall on the mezzanine floor are fit for a king’s ballroom. On the same level, is the Mezzanine Café, and the Exhibition Gallery, which highlights the best from twenty years of collecting.
The ground floor includes a video room, an education gallery with the museum’s tenth anniversary print collection, the visitor information desk and the museum shop, which is small, but full of wonderful surprises. Unusual gifts and cards await you, together with some reproductions of the artists featured at the NMWA.
The third floor presents highlights from the NMWA’s twenty years of collecting as well. On the fourth floor is the Library and Research Center, which was closed when we were there. (Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 10am to 5pm). It features Women and Books: illustrators, designers, writers with selections from the Library and Research Center Collection.
We spent most of our time on the second floor that is reserved for special exhibitions. "The Book as Art" did not disappoint; it was an amazing journey of different galleries, embracing women who fashioned books into political statements, ethnic personalities, personal angst - works from women all over the globe united through their common expression through art. This special exhibition closed on February 4, 2007. One did not have to be in the business of art, or specialty art books to understand and appreciate the messages that were being sent though the art works.
While the majority of the art displayed took the form of a book, but not in a conventional sense, as you can see from the photos, there were also some paintings, prints and installations on the same floor, including a self-portrait of the late Frida Kahlo , which she dedicated to Leon Trotsky. Some of the surprises included costumes of Julie Taymor and very suggestive prints by renowned Judy Chicago , creator of the very controversial "Dinner Party".
Admission is $8.00 per person and free to members. The museum also makes available its Great Hall and Mezzanine for special events, and if they call for catering, there is a kitchen adjacent to the Hall. A must see in D.C.
From journal March on Washington
June 11, 2003
Unfortunately for anyone who might wish to see this exhibit, it ends on June 18, 2003. In the exhibit are works by Angelica Kauffman, Elizabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun, Christina Robertson, and Marie Anne Collot. It was put together to celebrate the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg. Since I am a big Vigee-Lebrun fan, it was a must-see for me, and I was not at all disappointed. It was magnificent, with lots of portraits and sculpture.
The building itself is a beautiful structure with a wonderful open and light feeling.
Ironically, the Renaissance Revival building was originally the Washington Masonic Temple--certainly not somewhere women would have been welcomed, let alone showcased. The permanent collection includes works by Mary Cassatt, Elizabeth Louise Vigee Lebrun, and Camille Claudel, just to name a few. The placement of the works is very attractive, but since the exhibit was taking a large part of the museum, some works were not hung. I did, however, find an artist I wasn’t acquainted with and am now fascinated by: Judy Chicago.
I loved her colorful works and was disappointed by the gift shop's lack of prints.
We particularly liked the silver collection. It was all pieces of work by female silversmiths, or at least from the workshop of female silversmiths. Somehow, I never thought of silversmithing as a craft practiced by women. Many of them began as the wives or daughters of silversmiths and came into the profession after the deaths of their husbands or fathers. Others just owned the businesses but never did the work themselves.
The gift shop is exceptional. They have some lovely jewelry and craft items. It is worth a visit even if you don’t want to spend the $8 that it costs to visit the museum.
From journal Iz and Irene in DC