An Arty Day


The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC, brings recognition to the achievements of women artists of all periods and nationalities – and during May admission on the weekends is free!

We had gone to look at the new sculpture project on New York Avenue, called Dancing in the Streets.  This is the first phase of  a public art sculpture unveiled by the museum – this phase was completed by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle.  There will be 4 phases aimed at revitalizing New York Avenue between 13th Street and 9th Street (Mt Vernon Square/Convention Center) – this will be the first major sculpture boulevard in DC.

The figures are 12 and 15 feet high and are made of fibreglass and encrusted with mirrors, coloured stones and mosaic glass.  There were really, really colourful.

Nana on a Dolphin 

Les trois graces (The Three Graces)

L'Arbre serpents (Serpent Tree)

Basketball Player

The museum has an admission fee of $10 but I went in to ask if there were any areas we could visit for free (with the exception of the gift shop) – sometimes museums will have permanent exhibitions which are free to visit and they only charge for special exhibitions.  We were pleased to hear  "free admission" mentioned.  

The museum has a lovely grand looking entrance 


And spacious interior for their permanent exhibition areas:  

There was a special exhibition:  A Dream … But Not Yours Contemporary Art from Turkey  which explores the predetermined roles forced on women in Turkey -  a country often described as having one foot in the East and the other in the West.   The exhibition showed the work of eleven artists as they explored  "why do so many women seek to conform and adhere to standards set by others, and continue to be judged by their roles as spouse, mother and keeper of the house?"   They explore the dreams they are supposed to live and those they want to live.

No photos were allowed in the exhibition but there were some really interesting works.   I was really taken with a work by Inci Eviner – a 3 minute video entitled Harem. It is based on early 19th century engravings but animated with the harem as a background for contemporary women performing repeated actions.  One woman looks repeatedly into a mirror, another continuously hammers the floor.  "It is a scene of oppositions in which they are contained and subjected to male dominance while being honored and adored for their beauty" .   We watched this work many times over.

Another really riveting work was "Exemplary" by Canan Senol who used a series of miniature paintings to make an animated narrative – a fable of a beautiful girl from a poor family forced to marry a man of her mother's choice.

We wandered around the rest of the gallery and these were a few of my favourite works from their permanent collection;

Africa by Lois Mailou Jones (American 1905-1998).  Jones lived in DC for much of her life and taught at Howard University for nearly 50 years.

Self-Portrait by Alice Bailly (Swiss 1872-1938).  Bailly created tableaux-laine "wool paintings" – in which she sewed coloured yarn in the form of brushstrokes.


Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky by Frida Kahlo (Mexican 1907-1954) In this work Kahlo acknowledges her political allegiance to the Mexican revolution & Marxism by wearing a peasant costume and dedicating the work to Trotsky. 

4 Seated Figures by Magdalena Abakanowicz (Polish born 1930).  This work is made from hessian, (burlap) resin and iron rods.


This one fell into "I could do that";  …  but of course I've never thought of it.  

Acid Rain by Chakaia Booker ( American b. 1953)  – rubber tyres and wood.




Read and post comments | Send to a friend


32 responses

  1. The Harem video sounds really neat! The hubby and I are traveling to DC for a few days during the summer. We plan to check out some of the Smithsonion's, and I would like to check out some art museums as well. I might just have to add this one to the list!

  2. I love street sculptures. These are wonderful.
    I've read about this self portrait of Frida Kahlo. I didn't realize it was in this museum. Do you know if it's there permanaetly?

  3. I love art. It was my minor in college. Okay, okay… art "history"… I was a wannabe, there I said it. 😦 Asian art history at that. No one but the NW seems to pay heed to that in the American art world… I just signed up for the big expensive pricey membership for Seattle Art Museum. I heard rumors Van Gogh was coming so I was like a fashion whore at a half-off sale. Write the check! and so I did…. Thank you for reminding me this sort of stuff is worth it.

  4. Ahhh, Art! I love the images you made! I also love the free days! A ten dollar admission is so steep! (worth it but steep for say a family of 4).I wish that they would advertise the free more often.

  5. The street sculptures are 12 feet high and taller? Wow. That is quite amazing. You took wonderful pictures inside as well. I felt as if I was there in the museum. What a lovely museum, with the chandeliers and the lovely staircase and woodwork! I enjoyed your description of the display from Turkey. It sounds like you had a very cultured day πŸ™‚ and your pictures do a wonderful job of giving us a bird's eye view of some of what you saw! Thank you for sharing your museum day with us!

  6. LOL I absolutely love your comment "I could do that – But I have never thought of it"I can relate to it because every so often if one walks through a exhibition one can hear people say in a very condescending tone "I could do that" – and I admit at time I can be one of them – though can we really?

  7. Oooh – I'm sure you will have a wonderful time – we have such lovely museums. The Smithsonian (including the zoo) are free which is really nice. I think the National Portrait Gallery is worth seeing and the Corcoran Gallery. Oh, and The Phillips Collection…… so many to choose from! πŸ™‚

  8. Yes, the Frida Kahlo painting is part of their permanent collection. A few years ago they had an exhibition here displaying more of her works along with Georgia O'Keefe – it was wonderful.

  9. Art History sounds very interesting – I would like to be more knowledgeable about the various periods and be able to recognize works. We went to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona – *loved* it – I would put it up there as one of my favourite galleries. We then stood in awe in-front of his Guernica in Madrid's Museo Reina Sofia. I can see why you would pay for the membership πŸ™‚

  10. We get very spoilt with our free Smithsonian so when we see an admission fee we balk! Whenever we travel away from DC we get sticker shock at the prices charged by museums and galleries – you are right, I don't imagine many families visit art galleries.

  11. I am going to have to properly read your post but loved the free part always catches my eye as of lately many times there is not so many places that let one in without some kind of money changing hands I wounder if some of the artist would be happy knowing there are was only for pay to view but you would not know if they were rolling in there graves!

  12. Yes, I saw "Frida" and I also read the biography by Haydon Ferrerra. There is a book called Finding Frida Kahlo by Barbara Levine which sounds interesting but it is too expensive to buy yet and my local library doesn't have it (well LOL – my local library is currently shut – being rebuilt).

  13. LOL – I always see "works" in exhibits that I think I could do just as well but I haven't thought to do it and I doubt that anyone would pay to exhibit something I made if I did think of it. It would be nice to think I could throw all my old shoe tongues together and have a gallery pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to add it to their collection…… I'd probably need a good sponsor first … πŸ™‚

  14. The 3 minute video was incredible. We watched it quite a few times because it felt as though you couldn't see (understand?) everything in one viewing.

  15. I like to think that the artists want to have their work seen and appreciated and the cheaper the cost the more of us are going to view it. They really didn't advertise this "free" very well though… the gallery had very few people in it when usually the mention of free attracts a bigger crowd.

  16. All your photos are amusing and interesting!
    Are the street sculptures there to stay permanently? They are emitting invisible energy to the street and strangely match the buildings on the street. We may be living in the world in need of vivid colors and energy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s