National Museum of Women in the Arts

About the Collection

The National Museum of Women in the Arts artists’ book collection focuses on women artists and includes sculptural works. Many of the works are unique, rare, or contain unconventional materials, like bedsheets, latex, a wine bottle, and a fish spine. This is a large, rich, and eclectic mix of bookworks, many of which haven’t been acquired by other repositories. At NMWA, artists’ books are part of the museum’s art collection, rather than the library’s book collection. Since the museum is so involved in collecting book art, there are frequent exhibits of unusual, beautiful bookworks. If you’re going to do research, make sure you check out the current exhibits too.

 Finding Artists’ Books

The best way to find out about artists’ books in the NMWA collection is to contact the Curator of Book Arts by calling 202-783-7364 or emailing .  There is currently no way to get a list of all artists’ books from the online catalog or the art collection information pages.  For partial lists, you can find some artists’ books by browsing the collection highlights.  You can also search the entire site for information by typing “artists’ books” into the search on the upper right of the main page.  In addition, you can go to the library online catalog and click “Advanced Search,” to the right of the “begin a new search” icon. Click “more options” in the middle of the page, then check the box for “Rare” shelving location. In the text box next to “keyword,” type “artists’ books” then click search.  This will give you a list of the artists’ books in the library rare book collection, but not the art collection. These search methods will only give you partial information, so you should contact the curator to learn about the entire collection.

 How to Get There

1250 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005

NMWA is near the Metro Center station. Take the Red, Blue, or Orange lines to Metro Center, then exit at 13th Street exit and walk two blocks north.

 What to Expect

Contact the Library and Research Center before going to view books. You can submit a research request form here to ask about setting a time to view specific works or to ask more general questions about the collection.

 Other Resources

National Museum of Women in the Arts Library & Archives

The Art/Book Split: Moving the Artist Book Collection at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Wasserman, Krystyna. The Book As Art: Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts. 2nd ed. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011.