Collection galleries at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, scheduled to reopen Oct. 21. (Credit: Jennifer Hughes, courtesy of NMWA)

The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. has been closed for the past two years. But now, after much anticipation and $67 million in renovations, its doors are set to open once again on Oct. 21.

The renovation project – led by Baltimore-based architectural firm Sandra Vicchio & Associates – includes a completely remodeled infrastructure that will make space for more elaborate exhibitions and events not previously possible.

“Our building serves as the nexus for a worldwide community of advocates for art and women,” Director Susan Fisher Sterling wrote in an open letter. “Its renovation will enable us to tell a more complete story of women in the arts and to share that story widely.” 

The museum was founded in 1987 as the world’s first major museum solely dedicated to championing women artists. Its founder, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, began collecting art in the 1970s with her husband and wanted to create a space where the work of her favorite women artists could be celebrated – despite critics accusing her of politicizing art. “Our idea struck a chord – or a nerve,” she said in early press coverage of the museum.

Today, the museum’s collection includes work by over 1,000 nationally and internationally renowned artists, from Frida Kahlo to Georgia O’Keefe. Its recent makeover is the museum’s first full renovation since it first opened its doors.

A new Learning Commons features an exhibition gallery, a library and a studio that provides space for events such as workshops and open art-making sessions. The Performance Hall has also been revamped with new technology to enhance performances, lectures and film screenings. 

The museum’s calendar has been stocked with a variety of events for both members and non-members in the upcoming months, including monthly after-hours experiences and weekly gallery talks hosted by staff members. 

“This venture springs from our work championing gender equity through the arts,” said Fisher Sterling in a press release.

NMWA will kick off its reopening with an exhibition of new work – 40 percent of which has never been shown before at the museum. The main exhibition, titled “The Sky’s the Limit,” will include sculptures and interactive installations from 13 international and U.S.-based women artists. Additionally, there will be two focus exhibitions spotlighting the work of renowned women artists Hung Liu and Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella .

To celebrate its opening weekend – Saturday, Oct. 21 and Sunday, Oct. 22 – the museum will offer free admission, live performances and interactive activities such as art-making. 

“This expansive transformation heralds a new era for the National Museum of Women in the Arts,” said Fisher Sterling.