My dearly beloved daughter has just moved from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. Now that she is in the same timezone and around two hours away by air, we decided to see her for a belated birthday weekend. In addition to eating in good restaurants, doing a little Christmas shopping, and talking quite a lot, there was the question of where to go and what to do.
I asked to go to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, since I hadn’t been there in about 25 years. I first learned about it from Victoria magazine when it opened in the late-80s. The question that they posed back then remains pertinent today: “Can you name five women artists?” At the time, I struggled to answer this question. This is still the only museum in the WORLD reserved exclusively for female artists. Women are woefully underrepresented in traditional museums – unless they appear as nude models! According to Guerrilla Girls, The Metropolitan Museum of New York, for example, features female artists in only 3% of the art, but 86% of the nudes.
The museum is housed in beautifully restored building, featuring sweeping marble staircases that connect the four floors of the collection. Here are some of the French works that I saw, starting with two by my favorite painter, Élisabeth Vigée-LeBrun. And after reviewing them, you’ll be able identify five women artists. (Quiz optional.)