Internship at the National Museum of Women in the Arts: Catherine Southwick

National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC

I have worked as a curatorial intern, and now a graduate curatorial fellow, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) since summer 2011. NMWA is a private museum in the Metro Center area of DC. It was founded by Wilhelmina Cole Holladay and Wallace F. Holladay and opened in 1987. The museum’s mission is to: “bring recognition to the achievements of women artists of all periods and nationalities by exhibiting, preserving, acquiring, and researching art by women and by teaching the public about their accomplishments.”

My first few weeks at NMWA coincided with the opening of three new exhibitions: “The Guerrilla Girls Talk Back,” “Pressing Ideas: Fifty Years of Women’s Lithographs from Tamarind,” and “Susan Swartz: Seasons of the Soul.” I attended curator-led tours of the Guerrilla Girls and Tamarind exhibitions, and then was tasked with writing blog entries on works from each exhibition. I chose to focus on lithographs by Gego and Elaine de Kooning from Tamarind, and Guerrilla Girls posters from the 2005 Venice Biennale. NMWA maintains extensive online and paper files on women artists, which were invaluable to my research for these blogs.

NMWA Mezzanine galleries

I have also completed several other writing projects during my time at NMWA. I wrote an article for NMWA’s Women in the Arts magazine on Georgia O’Keeffe’s Jack-in-Pulpit – No. 2 (1930), on loan from the National Gallery. I wrote gallery labels for a group of collection objects, some of which are featured in NMWA’s “25 x 25” donor celebration in anticipation of its 25th anniversary in 2012. (Curators selected 25 works gifted by 25 donors to highlight for the upcoming year). I am assisting with drafting new artist and object text as part of an ongoing project for the NMWA website. Finally, I am finishing a three-part blog series on photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe; NMWA has an outstanding selection of Dahl-Wolfe’s photographs in its permanent collection.

My experience at NMWA has been an extraordinary opportunity to participate in curatorial research and writing, and to learn more about fascinating women artists. I am grateful to curators Jordana Pomeroy and Kathryn Wat and curatorial assistant Raphael Fitzgerald for allowing me to participate in everything from these research projects to weekly curatorial meetings.

Two new exhibitions open at NMWA on October 28th, so be sure to stop by soon to check out “Visions of the Orient: Western Women Artists in Asia 1900-1940,” and “TROVE: The Collection in Depth.” Learn more about these exhibitions and the museum on NMWA’s website.

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