A Museum of Their Own : The National Museum of Women in the Arts
Overview - Over the centuries, until quite recently, the work of great women artists had been ignored, forgotten, or denied; they had been largely left out of museums and histories of art. Along came Wilhelmina Cole Holliday, who boldly decided it was time to rectify this oversight by founding a museum in 1987 in a landmark building near the White House. Read more...
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More About A Museum of Their Own by Wilhelmina Cole Holladay; Philip Kopper
Over the centuries, until quite recently, the work of great women artists had been ignored, forgotten, or denied; they had been largely left out of museums and histories of art. Along came Wilhelmina Cole Holliday, who boldly decided it was time to rectify this oversight by founding a museum in 1987 in a landmark building near the White House. A critic for the "Washington Post" wrote, GC Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, the museumGCOs founding president, has accomplished something radical. No player in the art scene here has a deeper understanding of power and money and of how our system works. Despite her white-glove graciousness, hard-working Billie Holladay is a warrior and a winner....GCYThis thrilling story of the birth and early years of the NMWA is a lively, anecdotal, behind-the-scenes, eyewitness glimpse of the efforts of dedicated individuals who shared Mrs. HolladayGCOs vision and, under her leadership, helped her expand the permanent collection, organize outstanding exhibitions, renovate the Museum, and fund a robust endowment. Moreover, NMWA now boasts a growing membershipGCoamong the top ten museums in the worldGCowith active, vocal committees all across the nation and in many countries. Illustrating the text are 130 color pictures, which include works from the collection and from exhibitions, as well as 40 archival photographs of landmark events that led to the MuseumGCOs impressive growth."
Women in the arts
Wilhelmina Cole Holladay's memoir of founding the National Museum of Women in the Arts, A Museum of Their Own, is both entertaining and enlightening. On one hand, the book makes it clear that it takes money and contacts to start a museum. Holladay mentions how things came to her by chance, but it is chance undergirded by means. Still, behind Holladay's breezy tone is a woman with focus, passion and the willingness to put in a great deal of hard work. When she began working on the museum in the 1970s, she had many detractors who felt that creating a museum for women artists would only have a ghetto effect. Holladay proved that the majority of these artists had in fact been forgotten: they were not exhibited in museums nor even mentioned in art history books. The museum, opened in 1987 in Washington, D.C., has rectified that omission. One of its most important exhibits, "An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Museum," not only displayed those paintings, but also probably saved them. The NMWA raised the funds for the conservation of the paintings, many of which were languishing in storage bins, and restoration of the frames. They are now on permanent display at the Hermitage. A Museum of Their Own includes some gorgeous works from the museum's collection, art by women you may have never heard of, but now have an opportunity to appreciate.