Heritage

Women Take Washington: New York Avenue Sculpture Project

Posted by: National Museum of Women in the Arts

The following article is from the Winter/Spring 2010 issue of Women in the Arts

This spring, National Museum of Women in the Arts will unveil the first phase of a bold public art project. Sculptures by renowned modern and contemporary women artists will be exhibited in changing installations on New York Avenue – right at NMWA’s front door. The first phase of the New York Avenue Sculpture Project features four monumental sculptures by French-born artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002).

Saint Phalle’s exuberant Nana on a Dolphin, 1998, and L’Arba serpents (Serpent Tree), #23, Basketball Player, and Les trois graces (The Three Graces), all from 1999, will be exhibited on the avenue’s median between 12th and 13th Streets, NW. Subsequent phases of the project will place sculptures along New York Avenue from 13th to 9th Street at Mount Vernon Square. When completed around 2015, the New York Avenue Sculpture Project will be the only major outdoor sculpture corridor in Washington, D.C.

NMWA has been planning this groundbreaking project for several years. An innovative public-private partnership between NMWA, the Downtown DC Business Improvement District, and the District of Columbia Office of Planning has enabled it to be realized. Temporary sculpture installations that will change every one to three years will create an exciting destination point in the capital city. Art by women will extend beyond NMWA’s galleries and into the area surrounding the museum, a vibrant and growing arts and entertainment district.

Although the New York Avenue Sculpture Project will feature works by modern and contemporary artists, its goals align closely with the plans established for Washington, D.C., in 1791 by Major Pierre L’Enfant, a French artist, engineer, and friend of George Washington’s. L’Enfant’s layout for the capital city included wide, tree-lined avenues that connect open spaces and offer citizens and visitors grand, inspiring vistas. Particularly when lined with important works by women sculptors, New York Avenue will ably complement L’Enfant’s vision.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as the National Mall was developed, many monuments and outdoor sculptures were erected in Washington. Over the past two decades, comparatively few such sculptures have been installed in the city; fewer still are those created by women. The changing installations of the New York Avenue Sculpture Project will highlight the equal role that women play in shaping today’s global culture.

 

Wat, Kathryn A., ‘Women Take Washington: New York Avenue Sculpture Project,’ Women in the Arts, (Winter/Spring 2010): 8-11.

Images:
1. Niki de Saint Phalle’s Three Graces.
‘Learn to Create Mosaic Artwork with NMWA!,’ National Museum of Women in the Arts’ Broadstrokes blog, published September 14th, 2011, accessed July 28th, 2015, http://broadstrokes.org/2011/09/14/learn-to-create-mosaic-artwork-with-nmwa
2. New York Avenue Sculpture Project Map.
‘Contemporary Sculpture Dancing Down New York Avenue!,’ National Museum of Women in the Arts’ Broadstrokes blog, published March 15th, 2010, accessed July 28th, 2015, http://broadstrokes.org/2010/03/15/contemporary-sculpture-dancing-down-new-york-avenue/.

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