Celebrating Women’s History Month: 5 Reasons You’ll Want to Visit D.C.’s National Museum of Women in the Arts

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Photo credit Graciela Iturbide: Dance, Juchitán, México, 1986

Yesterday marked the beginning of National Women’s History Month, a celebration that began as only a week dedicated to women’s history back in 1981 (a week hardly seems like long enough), and has slowly grown into a month-long recognition of the vital role of women in American history. Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” And during this momentous and important month, when we honor and celebrate the many ways that women have impacted the history of our country, there’s certainly no shortage of events, gatherings, screenings, discussions, and perspective-changing exhibits to check out. But with so many opportunities (though it can be argued there are never enough) to honor influential women, it can be hard to know where to begin. So, let’s begin at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C.

This museum is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts, and while they offer collections, programs, experiential, and online content throughout the year, during the month of March there are some not-to-be-missed events designed to educate, inspire, and incite dynamic exchanges about women, the arts, and their contributions to our country and the world. According to their website, “NMWA addresses the gender imbalance in the presentation of art by bringing to light important women artists of the past while promoting great women artists working today.” Now that’s a mission statement we can get behind this month, and every month of the year. 

Here are five must-see exhibits and events happening this March at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C. in honor of Women’s History Month.

Celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th

When: March 8th, 2020

While the entire month of March has been deemed Women’s History Month, on March 8th it is also International Women’s Day, and the museum will be bustling with interactive and educational events and exhibitions to check out. Oh, and did we mention admission and all activities are FREE of charge? Now we’ve really got your attention. Participate in docent-led conversations, enjoy live musical performances, get hands-on with art activities and enjoy a female author book swap to share the girl power and pass on the support for female authors.

Explore the Work of Graciela Iturbide, One of Mexico’s Greatest Living Photographers 

When: Throughout the Month of March

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Photo credit Graciela Iturbide: Dance, Juchitán, México, 1986

Arguably one of Mexico’s greatest living photographers, Graciela Iturbide’s powerful Mexico exhibit will be on display at the NMWA through May, but March feels like the perfect month to be blown away by her work. Iturbide is one of the most influential contemporary photographers of Latin America, and she uses her photos to transform ordinary observations into lyrical art and emotionally charged insights about her homeland and the world. This is her most extensive exhibit in the US in over two decades, with more than 140 photos documenting the lives and customs of indigenous Mexican culture, as well as haunting photos and a rare glimpse at Frida Kahlo’s personal items that were left at her home after Kahlo’s death, as captured by Iturbide.As Iturbide once said in The Guardian, her work has allowed her to expand her world view but also gain a better understanding of herself and look deeply at the complex roots of Mexican culture. “My work is egocentric. It is about what Graciela Iturbide saw when she was taking photographs around the world, nothing more…I am showing how I interpret things through all the influences in my life.”

Attend a Screening of 13th, the Moving and Award-Winning Documentary from Ava DuVernay

When: March 9th, 2020

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Photo Credit Netflix

Do not miss out on this rare opportunity to get up close and personal with award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay, known for her work on When They See Us and Selma. On March 9th you can attend a special screening of 13th, her documentary on racial injustices in the criminal justice system and police violence against black men and women. The film is named for the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery but permitted involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime, and it takes a deep and disturbing look at how our country’s criminal justice system has actually contributed to racial injustice throughout history and still today. The screening of the film, which Rolling Stone has called “incendiary, indelible and indispensable,” will be followed by a discussion with DuVernay. This is a powerful event not to be missed.

Check Out the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, Focusing On Women Artists of Latin America

When: March 14th, 2020

Don’t lie, do you often look up information on Wikipedia and just assume it’s true because you Googled it? Well this edit-a-thon is for you. On March 14th this 7th annual Art+Feminism edit-a-thon is focused on improving Wikipedia entries related to notable women artists of Latin America, and also ensuring that information about these artists is accurate, thus improving Wikipedia’s gender imbalance. The event will be held in conjunction with edit-a-thons across the city and will commemorate the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, which granted women the right to vote. Last year alone more than 3,800 Art+Feminism participants created or improved 21,000 Wikipedia pages focusing on female artist entries. No experience is necessary, come only armed with your laptop and a desire to eliminate gender bias and improve online content accuracy.

Attend a Film Screening and Discussion Highlighting Women and the Environment

When: March 21st, 2020

On March 21st the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital (DCEFF) will be showcasing the film Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy, co-presented by the NMWA along with the Embassy of Mexico and the Mexican Cultural Institute. This feature-length documentary takes a personal look at the life of 92-year-old British chef and cookbook author Diana Kennedy — an authority on Mexican cuisine, and an outspoken environmentalist. Back in 1974, Kennedy designed and built her ecologically sustainable property outside Zitácuaro, Michoacán, where she still cooks today, using solar power and recycled rainwater as well as produce and ingredients grown and sourced locally.