The National Women’s History Museum has been celebrating the contributions of American women for 12 years. So far, Congress hasn’t been in on the party.
Since its inception in 1996, the NWHM has existed solely online, collecting Mall-friendly exhibits on “Rights for Women,” “American Women in the Olympics,” and “Women Spies” on the Web at nwhm.org. But despite years-long efforts to lobby Congress for a spot near the Smithsonians, the museum has yet to secure a physical site. Though the Senate passed a 2005 bill by unanimous consent to lease a location adjacent to the Old Post Office Building on Pennsylvania Ave. to the museum, the House of Representatives failed to act on the bill. Check out DCist’s history of the issue here.
Now, NWHM is again lobbying Congress for a physical home—-this time at 12th St. & Independence Ave NW. NWHM President Joan Wages says a physical museum focusing specifically on women will help balance the District’s male-centric historical record. “If you look around the nation’s capital, we have 219 statues in the Capitol Building, and only nine of them are of women,” says Wages. “The National Museum of American History only had two exhibits focused on women prior to their renovation, one of which was a ‘First Ladies’ exhibit that focused on dresses.”
Adds Wages, “We have museums in Washington that recognize postage stamps, and victims of the Holocaust, and Native Americans. Women’s achievements and contributions to our country should be honored in the most important place in our capital.” The new legislation, House Resolution 6548, was introduced on July 17 by New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney.