Things to Do DC

Women's History Month Around DC: Art Exhibits, Tours, Concerts and More Ways to Celebrate

Explore different events in the Washington, D.C., area that honor women in history and today

Celebrate Female Artists at the National Museum of Women in the Arts
Emily Haight/NMWA

March is Women's History Month, a celebration of efforts to expand human rights, create a more equal world and break barriers.

The roots of Women's History Month date back to 1909. It was originally started as Women's Day by a group of Manhattan socialists and suffragists in honor of the one-year anniversary of a major garment strike. Decades later, in 1987, Congress designated March as Women's History Month.

Every year on March 8, International Women's Day is marked in countries around the globe.

D.C., Maryland and Virginia are home to some fantastic historical sites devoted to sharing women's history stories — the National Park Service has a full-day itinerary to try.

Kaitlin Calogera, the entrepreneur behind A Tour of Her Own, said the Female Union Band Society Cemetery in Georgetown has an incredible history.

We also suggest checking out the Harriet Tubman Byway (here's our 2017 map guide), the Clara Barton National History Site in Glen Echo, The Military Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery and the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial in Occoquan Regional Park (The National Museum of Women in the Arts is closed for renovations and set to reopen in October).

Beyond the sites, there are performances, art exhibits, concerts, food and drink events and many more ways to mark Women's History Month around D.C.

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On Stage: Music, Comedy, Talks and Performances

Women’s History Month Sunday Concert Series (Sundays through March 26, National Gallery of Art, free): The National Gallery of Art will host a concert series to celebrate women in music, featuring works by 17th-century female composers all the way to today’s most famous musicians. A different musician will be featured each Sunday (Pianist Sarah Cahill and The Future is Female performed at noon and 2:45 p.m. on March 8).

She Comes First (March 14, 7:30 p.m., Miracle Theatre, $20): Celebrate women's history with Story District at Miracle Theatre. Discover real-life, first-person stories on everything from infertility to confronting assailants to making dreams come true.

In Conversation: Angela Davis (March 15, 7 p.m., Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library): Angela Davis, the political activist and author has been "at the cutting edge of the Black Liberation, feminist, queer and prison abolitionist movements for more than 50 years," the D.C. Public Library says. She'll speak about her experiences at the MLK Library.

SHOUT SISTER SHOUT! (March 15 to May 13, Ford's Theatre): This new musical tells the story of one of America's most influential rock, R&B and gospel crossover singers and guitarists, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The show is inspired by Gayle F. Wald’s book.

The Public Square with Michelle Miller (March 16, 6:30 p.m., MLK Memorial Library): Michelle Miller is set to discuss her book "Belonging: A Daughter’s Search for Identity Through Loss and Love." The talk is put on by the The Washington Association of Black Journalists and the DC Public Library Foundation.

An ASL Tribute to Women's History and the Arts (March 16, 7 p.m., MLK Library): Members of Visionaries of the Creative Arts (VOCA) are set to share ASL poetry, storytelling and dance to tell stories of Black women's history.

Washington Women in Jazz (Through March 27, $10-$32): Enjoy a month full of performances by local female musicians around town, including an 18-piece big band at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.

Art, Exhibits and Museum Events for Women's History Month

I Dream a World: Selection from Brian Lanker’s Portraits of Remarkable Black Women (Through Sept. 10, National Portrait Gallery, Free): The second part of the two-part installation features likenesses of women who made an impact through arts, activism, literature and politics. Photographer Brian Lanker showcases figures such as Cicely Tyson and Oprah Winfrey.

Dee Dwyer’s Wild Seeds of the Soufside (Open Wednesdays and Thursdays, Phillips@THEARC, 1801 Mississippi Ave, SE, Washington, DC.): Dee Dwyer's exhibit is a visual journey through Southeast D.C.

National Museum of the United States Army history talks (Virtual and in-person in Fort Belvoir, free): Learn about the U.S. Army nurses who served during the Spanish-American War (in-person on March 22 and virtual on March 8, 15 and 22) or the telecommunications operators — known as "Hello Girls" — who made history as "the first women to actively support combat operations on a regular basis" (in-person and virtual option on March 14).

We Who Believe in Freedom: Black Feminist DC (March 30, MLK Jr. Memorial Library, free): "We Who Believe in Freedom" will be the first full, in-person exhibit from the National Women's History Museum — and it will open to the public for the first time this month. Learn about Black feminist organizers and leaders, including Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mary Treadwell, plus their impact on communities in D.C. and across the country. On opening night, visitors can enjoy a special performance by Rochelle Rice and complimentary snacks.

Transgender Histories of D.C. (Virtual): The D.C. Public Library interviewed local transgender elders, mainly Black women, to document the late 20th century and early 21st century through their eyes.

Women's History Month Tours

Silent Sentinel Sunday Walking Tours (Through March 26, Freedom Plaza, free): Spend a Sunday afternoon with a National Park Service ranger on a 45-minute walking tour to learn how the silent sentinels’ protests affected public views of suffrage at the time. These peaceful protests took place from 1917 to 1919, where National Woman’s Party members picketed the White House six days per week, holding signs and asking for the right to vote.

Off the Mall Walking Tours: Check out the Madams of DC tour on Thursday, March 16 — it costs $25.

A Tour of Her Own (Various dates and locations): Kaitlin Calogera tells us her company's tours offer a fresh perspective of D.C. neighborhoods and American history through a feminist lens. You can book private tours or join a public one, such as "HERstory on the National Mall" on March 25. Virtual tours are available, as well.

Rainbow History Project: Learn about LGBTQIA+ history via a self-guided tour of Dupont Circle, or archival tours. You can also request a guided tour by appointment — they're free, but donations are welcome.

Food & Drinks for Women's History Month

Women in Wine at Vitis Fine Wines (March 16, Union Market, $25): Take a stroll around Vitis Fine Wine & Spirits in Union Market and chat with the shop's favorite female winemakers and importers. The happy hour event will offer samples of 10 different wines from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Women’s History Month Food Festival (March 13 to 19): Nonprofit Regarding Her (RE:Her) has organized some of D.C.'s top restaurants owned by women-identifying and non-binary people for a week of specials and events. Check out Beauty Champaign & Sugar Boutique in Alexandria for free Saturday wine tastings (March 11 and 19), or collabs between Preservation Biscuit Company and Ice Cream Jubilee or Teaism and Dolcezza.

Hank's Oyster Bar 2nd Floor Sessions (Sundays in March, Old Town, $65-$95): Sample and learn from local chefs. On March 12, join a wine-tasting class hosted by Cork Wine Bar owner Diane Gross and sommelier Nadine Brown. On March 19, Susan Qin, owner of Union Market pop-up Chinese Street Market, will teach how to make dumplings. Thompson Italian's Lucy Dakwar, Sarah Ewald and Katherine Thompson will serve a five-course dinner during the final Sunday session.

Past Events

RIOT! Funny Women Stand Up (March 9, The Kennedy Center, Tickets start at $30): This year's annual Women’s History Month stand-up comedy event features Janelle James, Ali Kolbert, Sam Jay, and Atsuko Okatsuka.

Black Girls Rock! Fest (Through Sunday, the Kennedy Center): Get ready for four days of musical performances at this festival "honoring the creative genius of Black women." The headline event is the BGR! Concert on Saturday featuring Alice Smith, Estelle and Jade Novah — but you'll also find free performances on the Millennium Stage, nightly DJ parties and more.

"On Art and the Female Body" (March 8, 8 p.m., the Hirshhorn, free): Join artist Joie Hollowell and Hirshorn curator Betsy Johnson for a discussion on art and the female body as informed by Hollowell's experiences with pregnancy, birth and postpartum motherhood.

(S)heroes (March 9, National Gallery of Art, free): National Gallery Night returns with a salute to women. Dance to tunes by iconic women musicians with Les The DJ and experience pop-up performances while you explore works by women artists. Passes are sold out, but a limited number are set to be available at the door.

Indigenous Women Weavers of Chiapas (March 11, National Museum of the American Indian, free): Learn weaving techniques from and master weavers and embroidery artists of Los Altos de Chiapas, Mexico including María López Ruíz, María de la Luz Gómez Martínez, Anita Ara Pérez and Juana López Díaz.

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