Planning a wedding or big party? Go for the National Museum for Women in the Arts

By Roxanne Rukowicz
Founder and Principal
Behind the Scenes Events

One of the most splendid affairs I have helped to plan was a wedding at the National Museum for Women in the Arts. It wasn’t just because the bride was a stunner in her Vera Wang gown, or because the museum is one of the most opulent venues in the area. It was because the museum itself is a celebration of the power of women.

Everywhere that you look in this museum, you’ll find artwork that is a testimony to the joys and heartbreak, trials and tribulations of real women throughout history.

So to host a wedding in this grand building, located at H Street and New York Avenue, is more than an event. It becomes a work of art in itself. Here’s why.

A tribute to beauty

Anyone who has gotten married, or even just been to a wedding, knows about the real-life drama that goes on behind the scenes. So on a day when there is tremendous expectation for the event to be perfect, I can’t think of a more perfectly poignant place to tie the knot than in this grand palace.

Let’s start with the bones of the building; they are simply magnificent. Housed in a tremendous, Renaissance Revival landmark building designed in 1907 as a Masonic temple, this is grandeur beyond compare. It also provides a wealth of variety and opportunity for many an event planner to create.

Let the magic begin

As guests step through the threshold, they are immediately drawn in by the sound of a string quartet. This sets the stage for a truly magical event.
Round the corner and within seconds, a dutiful attendant will take your coat and guide you toward the Great Hall.

Opulence is an understatement as you enter into the luxurious, pink-marbled reception area. As the museum’s largest space, you will find the floor filled with elegantly prepared tables, waiting in ready for the dinner yet to be served.

Allow the attendant to take you up the sweeping marble staircase to the mezzanine, where your drink of choice, and the rest of the guests already making merry, will be waiting. At this level, guests have a bird’s-eye view of the elegance around them. From the glistening chandeliers to the ornate woodwork and masterpieces on display, guests will be mesmerized by the sheer lavishness of it all.

Options abound

For those fetes with smaller guest lists, the Third Floor Gallery, Kasser Board Room or the Performance Hall may better fit your needs. But one word to the wise, ladies: Stash a pair of flats in your bag, or prepare to steel yourself through a night in your stilettos on the unforgiving marble floors. No one ever said beauty wasn’t painful.

To be honest, the misfortune of private events is that many guests never make it past the dance floor and into the rest of the museum — though they are always invited to do so. Within these walls lay a testament to the women whose dedication and sacrifice allow us to celebrate today.

The history

Founders Wilhelmina and Wallace Holladay, who donated the core of the permanent collection – more than 250 works by women from the 16th to the 20th century – became interested in women’s art in the 1960s. After discovering that no women were included in H.W. Janson’s History of Art, a standard text (which did not address this oversight until 1986), the Holladays began collecting art by women, and the concept of a women’s art museum soon evolved.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts was incorporated in 1981 as a private, nonprofit museum. During its first five years, the museum operated from temporary offices with docent-led tours of the collection at the Holladay residence. Special exhibitions also were presented. In 1983, the museum purchased the building at 1250 New York Avenue N.W., and refurbished the 78,000-square-foot facility with the highest design, museum and security standards.

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About Roxanne Rukowicz

Ranked one of Washington, D.C.‘s top meeting and event planners for 2009 by the Washington Business Journal, Roxanne Rukowicz’s Behind the Scenes Events opened its doors in July 2008 to offer organizations access to affordable, full-service meeting and event-planning solutions.

Having worked in the Washington, D.C., meeting and event industry for over a decade, Roxanne started her career at the Greater Washington Board of Trade in 1999. Her experience with this influential, regional network of business leaders allowed her hands-on training from the start. What began as a mere temporary work assignment later progressed into a position as general manager as she excelled at task.

Her extensive association and nonprofit planning skills are accented by experience working in the social and entertainment markets. Positions with The Walt Disney Companies, and as a freelance wedding and special-event coordinator, have featured opportunities with A-list celebrity clients and high-ranking government officials.

With a commitment to excellence and focus on the customer experience, Roxanne and her Behind the Scenes Events team create and produce exemplary meetings and events that drive an organization’s mission and goals.

For more visit and check out Roxanne’s highly helpful events planning blog,