National Museum of Women in the Arts Opens Doors to SAMs

Monday, February 10, 2014

By Rachel Rose Hartman

(Photo 1: Marshall, left; Dantzler, right. Photo 2: Mary A. Stinson (American), "Crazy Quilt," circa 1880, Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 1995.87. Photographer Gavin Ashworth, Brooklyn Museum, 2012.)

The DowntownDC BID’s Safety/Hospitality and Maintenance employees (SAMs) were surrounded by the accomplishments of women artists last week at their monthly meeting, held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (1250 New York Ave, NW).

The museum—the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in visual, performing and literary arts—opened its doors to the BID Feb. 6 to offer SAMs their performance hall in which to hold their monthly meeting.

Steven Mecca, assistant to the museum director, thanked the SAMs for their stewardship and dedicated work keeping downtown both safe and tidy. "The DowntownDC BID has been a wonderful partner over the years, including in its promotion and maintenance of NMWA’s New York Avenue Sculpture Project. We always are delighted to welcome and recognize the work of the SAMs and it was a pleasure to join the group at their monthly meeting," Mecca later told the BID. 

The museum was founded in 1987 and preserves and displays a collection of 4,500 objects, presents 10 world-class exhibitions each year, houses an 18,500-volume library and research center, and regularly offers performing arts and educational events.

An exhibition from the Brooklyn Museum of 18th-20th century American quilts "Workt by Hand": Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts is currently on display through April 27 as well as an exhibition on various media from 1970s feminist artist Judy Chicago, which runs through April 13. 

Museum admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors or students and free for anyone under 18. And everyone can enjoy free admission on the first Sunday of each month for Free Community Days.

SAMs in February met at the museum for their regular meeting to discuss business related to the SAMs, who are the ears, eyes and caretakers of downtown and continue to help make downtown a safe and inviting place for all.

As part of their monthly meeting, two outstanding SAMs were designated SAMs of the Month for their performance in January: Safety/Hospitality team member Michael Marshall and Maintenance team member Raymond Dantzler. Both men are native Washingtonians, 5-year-plus veterans of the SAM program and both are engaged to be married.

Michael Marshall will hit his 7-year employee anniversary on Feb. 23. Marshall said meeting and interacting with people remains the best part of his job and even though he’s been a SAM for years, he said that being a SAM still offers daily surprises. “You never know who you’re going to meet or what you’re going to learn,” he said. Marshall shared some general work advice that he puts to use as a SAM: “Work smart... You must do your job.” Marshall, who is engaged to fiancée Tamani, is an avid reader and a history buff. He listed the pre-Civil War-era and areas of WWI and WWII as favorite periods of study, The Bible as a favorite book, and The History Channel as a choice television show.

Raymond Dantzler has worked as a SAM for 8 years and in addition to winning SAM of the month on several occasions, he was named SAM of the year for 2008. The awards are meaningful, he said, not only to him, but to his family. Dantzler framed his past awards and hung them in his living and dining rooms to showcase them for his two children. “It’s important for my kids to grow up and see it,” Dantzler said of the awards. “It’s motivation for them to do better.” When not at work, Dantzler enjoys spending time with his children and family, watching football and basketball (the Redskins and Lakers) and going to the movies, the mall and sightseeing. Dantzler and fiancée Sharon plan to get married this year—“something not too big” he said.