Frida Kahlo Two Museum Art History Tour: NMWA & NPG - CANCELLED
Frida Kahlo Two Museum Art Tour: NMWA & NPG
Frida Kahlo is one of the most influential modern artists - as well as being one of our personal favorites!
In Washington, DC we’re fortunate to have two iconic Friday Kahlo portraits within a half-mile of one another.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts has “Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky” (1937), done by Frida herself, and the Smithsonian - National Portrait Gallery has “Frida Kahlo” (1933), a portrait by Magda Pach.
Our Frida Kahlo tour program will include visits to both museums to see these two works up-close and in-person.
We’ll compare and contrast the two portraits, and provide an overview of Frida's fascinating life, including her marriage to artist Diego Rivera., what makes her artwork so unique, and why she became so popular.
Your host for this program is Robert Kelleman: the Founder / Director of the non-profit community organization Washington, DC History & Culture, an art history graduate from University of Michigan, and former employee of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Before 12:15 pm = You may want to arrive at the National Museum of Women in the Arts early in order to use the restroom, visit the museum shop, etc. as our tour will only cover Frida Kahlo and a few other artworks. Admission to the museum is normally $10, but on this date, the first Sunday of the month, Community Day, museum admission is FREE.
12:15 - 1:15 pm = National Museum of Women in the Arts Tour - emphasis on Frida Kahlo.
1:15 pm - 1:30 pm = Walk one-half mile from the National Museum of Women in the Arts to the Smithsonian American Art Museum / National Portrait Gallery.
1:30 pm - 2:15 pm = American Art Museum / National Portrait Gallery Tour - emphasis on Frida Kahlo.
After 2:15 pm = The American Art Museum / National Portrait Gallery is open until 7:00 pm if you want to stay and see more of their impressive collection as our tour will only cover Frida Kahlo and a few other artworks. Admission to the museum is FREE.
Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954) was a Mexican painter known for her many portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico. Inspired by the country's popular culture, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society. Her paintings often had strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy. In addition to belonging to the post-revolutionary Mexicayotl movement, which sought to define a Mexican identity, Kahlo has been described as a surrealist or magical realist.
Born to a German father and a mestiza mother, Kahlo spent most of her childhood and adult life at La Casa Azul, her family home in Coyoacán, now publicly accessible as the Frida Kahlo Museum. Although she was disabled by polio as a child, Kahlo had been a promising student headed for medical school until a traffic accident at age eighteen, which caused her lifelong pain and medical problems. During her recovery, she returned to her childhood hobby of art with the idea of becoming an artist.
Kahlo's interests in politics and art led to her joining the Mexican Communist Party in 1927, through which she met fellow Mexican artist Diego Rivera. The couple married in 1928, and spent the late 1920s and early 1930s travelling in Mexico and the United States together. During this time, she developed her artistic style, drew her main inspiration from Mexican folk culture, and painted mostly small self-portraits which mixed elements from pre-Columbian and Catholic beliefs. Her paintings raised the interest of Surrealist artist André Breton, who arranged for Kahlo's first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1938.
The exhibition was a success and was followed by another in Paris in 1939. While the French exhibition was less successful, the Louvre purchased a painting from Kahlo, The Frame, making her the first Mexican artist to be featured in their collection. Throughout the 1940s, Kahlo participated in exhibitions in Mexico and the United States, and also worked as an art teacher. She taught at the Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado "La Esmeralda" and was a founding member of the Seminario de Cultura Mexicana. Kahlo's always fragile health began to decline in the same decade. She had her first solo exhibition in Mexico in 1953, shortly before her death in 1954 at the age of 47.
Kahlo's work as an artist remained relatively unknown until the late 1970s, when her work was rediscovered by art historians and political activists. By the early 1990s, she had become not only a recognized figure in art history, but also regarded as an icon for Chicanos, the feminism movement and the LGBTQ+ movement. Kahlo's work has been celebrated internationally as emblematic of Mexican national and indigenous traditions and by feminists for what is seen as its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.
National Museum of Women in the Arts Link:
Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky - 1937
National Portrait Gallery Link:
Frida Kahlo by Magda Pach - 1933
The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts.
With its collections, exhibitions, programs, and online content, the museum seeks to inspire dynamic exchanges about art and ideas. NMWA advocates for better representation of women artists and serves as a vital center for thought leadership, community engagement, and social change. NMWA addresses the gender imbalance in the presentation of art by bringing to light important women artists of the past while promoting great women artists working today.
Smithsonian - National Portrait Gallery
Experience portraiture beyond the frame. Our collections present people of remarkable character and achievement. These Americans—artists, politicians, scientists, inventors, activists, and performers—form our national identity. They help us understand who we are and remind us of what we can aspire to be. Get to know us at the National Portrait Gallery. We look forward to sharing the faces and stories of inspiring Americans with you.
The mission of the National Portrait Gallery is to tell the story of America by portraying the people who shape the nation’s history, development and culture.
Pre-Tour Homework - Frida Starring Salma Hayek - Optional : )
Frida is a 2002 American biographical drama film directed by Julie Taymor. It depicts the professional and private life of the surrealist Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. It stars Salma Hayek in her Academy Award–nominated portrayal as Kahlo and Alfred Molina as her husband, Diego Rivera. The movie was adapted by Clancy Sigal, Diane Lake, Gregory Nava, Anna Thomas and unofficially by Edward Norton from the book Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera.
Frida received generally positive reviews from critics, and won two Academy Awards for Best Makeup and Best Original Score among six nominations.
Registration: As this is a limited space event (and to reduce “no shows”) there is a $10.00 per person registration-in-advance fee / donation to attend, with proceeds supporting our Washington, DC History & Culture non-profit community programs. Full refund if the event is cancelled or if you change your RSVP to “no” at least 48 hours beforehand. Admission to the museums is free.
You do not need to bring your ticket/confirmation with you. Upon arrival we’ll just check your name off our RSVP list.
Weather: This program is mostly indoors and will thus take place rain or shine.
Meeting Point: 12:15 pm sharp inside of the Great Hall of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (1250 New York Ave NW). The Great Hall is on the ground floor of the museum just past the information desk. Look for a group of friendly people, and your host wearing a cream-colored scarf. We’ll be in the Great Hall for several minutes before proceeding upstairs to the 3rd floor for the remainder of our tour.
Ending Point: Smithsonian American Art Museum / National Portrait Gallery (8th St NW & F St NW).
Additional Questions: Anything that can’t be answered by the above event description, Google, or common sense please let us know.
This program is presented by the non-profit community organization Washington, DC History & Culture:
“bringing people together to experience the history and culture of Washington, DC.”
For more entertaining and educational programs visit us at:
We look forward to seeing you - thanks!
Washington, DC History & Culture
202-821-6325 (text only)