The Needlework Exhibition at historic Woodlawn, an annual celebration of the needle arts, features contemporary needlework from around the country. The exhibit and sale are usually open throughout March but had to close early in 2020.
2020 UPDATE: The Woodlawn Needlework Exhibition is now open daily except Tuesday, 10:00 – 4:00, July 15 through August 2. Purchase tickets online in advance.
Woodlawn was originally part of George Washington’s vast Mount Vernon estate. In fact, Washington personally selected the site as a home for his nephew Lawrence Lewis and his bride, Martha’s granddaughter Nelly. Eleanor “Nelly” Parke Custis Lewis excelled at needlework and considered it a particular point of pride.
The Needlework Exhibition is a judged show that includes entries in 10 different needle arts categories, from beadwork to smocking. The annual event is organized and run by Nelly’s Needlers. The volunteer group supports and raises funds for Woodlawn through this exhibit and additional programming.
The works’ quality and complexity are impressive. Pieces range from beautiful to quaint, to eerie. Even though we are not needlework devotees, my friend and I were fascinated with the collection.
Works are hung throughout both the upstairs and downstairs rooms of the house, so you get a chance to explore this historic site while viewing the art.
2020 Woodlawn Needlework Exhibition
The 2020 Needlework Exhibition theme is “100 Years of Women expressing their rights through craftmaking”. The theme honors the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. In keeping with the theme, many pieces will highlight how women express activism through their needlework.
If you time your visit right, you can also enjoy lunch in Nelly’s Tea Room. The pop-up cafe offers sandwiches, salads, quiche, and other light fare. The exhibition and lunch make a wonderful day out with Mom or friends. (The tea room is closed in 2020.)
After lunch, stop in the gift shop to purchase needlework items and delicious ginger cookies made with Martha Washington’s recipe. Proceeds from lunch, tips, and cookie sales all go toward preserving history at Woodlawn.
The Needlework Exhibit is not the only reason to visit Woodlawn. The shop at Woodlawn also sells tickets for tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House, which is a fascinating example of Wright’s design and is well worth a visit.
See Fallingwater and more on a Frank Lloyd Wright Road Trip to Laurel Highlands Pennsylvania.
Visiting Woodlawn and the Pope-Leighey House
Both Woodlawn and the Pope-Leighy House are open 10:00 to 4:00 daily except Tuesdays throughout the month of March. Admission to the Needlework Exhibition is $15 for adults, $6 for K to 12, 5 and under free. The ticket price includes demonstrations, special exhibits, talks by local craft artists and the chance to shop at the needlearts gift shop. Some workshops and events require reservations and an additional ticket.
Pope-Leighy House Tours are $15 for adults, $7.50 for K to 12, $12 for seniors and active military, 5 and under free. If you don’t have time for a tour you can walk around the outside of the house and get a feel for Wright’s beautiful design.
Woodlawn and the Pope-Leighy House are at 9000 Richmond Highway in Alexandria, Virginia. Both properties are managed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Find more local activities in our guide to March Events in Northern Virginia: Festivals and Fun Near DC.
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