National Museum of Women in the Arts will close for two-year renovation

The $66m project includes expanding galleries, creating research and education spaces and restoring its landmark 1908 building

The National Museum of  Women in the Arts in Washington, DC Thomas H. Field

The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC Thomas H. Field

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, DC announced today that it would close for around two years beginning in August for a $66m renovation of its 1908 Classical Revival building.

The project, for which $50m has been raised so far through a capital campaign, will include creating a new orientation gallery in the building’s great hall to acclimate visitors and tell stories about women artists; enlarging galleries for both historic and contemporary works; creating a library, research centre, reading room and a studio; improving wireless and touch-screen technology in galleries; and upgrading infrastructure and storage to enhance the conservation and security of the museum’s collection. The roof, cornice and exterior of the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will also be restored while heeding local preservation guidelines, the museum says.

The NMWA, which describes itself as the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to championing women artists, owns more than 5,500 works by such figures as Louise Bourgeois, Mary Cassatt, Judy Chicago, Frida Kahlo, Shirin Neshat, Faith Ringgold, Pipilotti Rist, Amy Sherald and Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun. It opened in 1987 and expanded in 1993 when the museum purchased an adjacent property, growing to 84,110 sq. ft.

The building will close on 9 August, and construction led by the Baltimore architectural firm Sandra Vicchio & Associates will begin on 1 September, the museum says. The institution will continue to offer online programming during the two-year renovation.

“The goal of equity for women through excellence in the arts has yet to be achieved,” says the NMWA’s 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.”

A rendering of a gallery as envisioned in the planned renovation of the National Museum of Women in the Arts Sandra Vicchio & Associates, with Marshall Craft Associates