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A Museum of Their Own: National Museum of Women in the Arts [Hardcover]

by Wilhelmina Cole Holladay
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 18, 2008 0789210037 978-0789210036 1
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, GÇ£Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, the museumGÇÖs 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....GÇ¥This 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. HolladayGÇÖs 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 membershipGÇöamong the top ten museums in the worldGÇöwith 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 MuseumGÇÖs impressive growth.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this memoir-slash-art history, the founder of the National Museum of Women in the Arts recounts how her devotion to art collecting led her to champion female artists with their own home in Washington, D.C. Neglected by the art establishment throughout history, the work of women artists at the beginning of the 1980s continued to be marginalized; the idea for the NMWA came from Holladay's casual observation to a well-placed friend about how rare it was to find a museum with even one work by a female artist. Holladay's determination and perseverance paid off in the NMWA's 1987 opening, which received near-universal kudos (save a whopper of a negative review in Time magazine) and currently boasts one of the country's largest museum memberships. Aside from the story of her and the institution's life, Holladay considers hundreds of pieces in all mediums, from beloved painters Georgia O'Keeffe and Mary Cassatt to sculpture by Kathe Kollwitz to Mary Ann Crosewell's charming silver toy, "George III Child's Rattle." Holladay is generous with praise for the large circle of wealthy patrons who've been involved; notable appearances include Bunny Mellon ("a queen in Washington"), Madeline Albright and Sandra Day O'Connor. Readers will find this richly rewarding, whether they're interested in the personal story of this National Medal of Arts winner or the fine art she's collected. 130 color and 40 b&w illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, the founder and Chair of the Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, was elected to the National Women's Hall of Fame and was awarded the National Medal of Arts and the Legion of Honor from the French government. She lives with her husband, Wallace, in Washington, D.C.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press; 1 edition (November 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789210037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789210036
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 10.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,220,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Story of a Unique Collection February 3, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you have a chance to visit the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, you have the opportunity to have your eyes opened to the contributions of women artists dating from the Renaissance to today.
Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, the founder, has told her story, and those who wonder if a great collection can be assembled in today's overpriced and competitive art world will love to know that the answer is yes.
Yes, a special collection can be amassed if a special person lies behind the effort.
I think Mrs. Holladay could have had an easier life, living and traveling in a world of privilege, but that is not the path she has chosen. Ever since stumbling on the works of an unknown artist named Clara Peeters, she and her husband have sought to answer the question of who has been left out of the art history books.
The museum in Washington and this book are part of the answer.
You will learn something about women artists and you will learn just as much about how to conduct the daunting business of establishing a major museum with private funds.
The story combines vision and collaboration. The most unlikely players are part of the history of this museum, including real estate people, a challenging DC government and mayor, interior designers, stone importers, librarians, artists and art collectors.
This book has merit for historians and students, because it tells the pieces of art history that have been missing from traditional narration for way too long.
It's also an inspiring story for people with a dream. Here's a success story based on identifying a gap in scholarship, a vision for a place of beauty in the nation's capital, and an opportunity to right one of history's wrongs.
The book will make you laugh at some of the insights and downright gossipy anecdotes. It's history told by an individual who has been there and who is changing what we know of the world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Delightful May 13, 2012
By Abelard
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The National Museum of Women in the Arts is one of the greatest treasures of Washington, D.C. Its permanent collection is large and superb, and it also sponsors frequently very interesting and important shows of women artists.

This book is written by Wilhelmina Holloday, the lady who co-founded the museum with her husband. She is a very good raconteur, and her stories of meeting the important and powerful people of Washington and how they helped the museum are fascinating. Her stories of meeting the living women artists are also very good. I once took a tour of the museum with Mrs. Holloday and she is as fascinating in person.

The book is well written and it is also filled with very high quality color prints of many of the treasures of the museum. It was a pleasure to see and enjoy them again. It is an excellent book in every regard.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks May 9, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Thank you very much. I cetainly will look forward to doing more business with you in the near future. Joan
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