Monday, October 19, 2009

Guest Post: Anxiously Awaiting the National Women's History Museum

Cross-posted from The Feminist Perspective by the wonderful Caroline Sellars

Last week, the House passed the National Women's History Museum act of 2009 (HR 1700), introduced by feminist Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York. This means that we're on the path to building a long-overdue national women's history museum! The national mall in D.C. is filled with museums dedicated to American Indian history, African-American history, and every other conceivable aspect of American history, except women's history. While I appreciate and enjoy these museums, I can't help but feel that women have been left out America’s telling of its history.

Right now, the only women's history museums in D.C. are the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, the historic home of the National Woman's Party and Alice Paul, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, which highlights female artists. While these are beautiful and inspiring museums, both cater only to a specific aspect of women's history and neither has enough funding or physical space to provide a comprehensive education on the entirety of women's experience in America. Surely the trials and achievements of women in American have just as much merit as those of the African-American and American Indian communities. Since the struggle for women's rights transcends racial, social, and economic divisions, it has directly affected half the nation, so it would only seem appropriate, perhaps even imperative, for our nation to honor women with a museum chronicling their unique history.

The area set aside for the museum will be south of the Smithsonian Castle "bounded by 12th Street, Independence Avenue, Maryland Avenue, the James Forrestal Building, and L'Enfant Plaza." The deal, however, is not complete yet. The bill must be passed by the Senate to secure the congressional approval required for the sale of the federal property. The National Women's History Museum act of 2009 is a great accomplishment, but success cannot be claimed until full Congressional approval is achieved.

For more information, visit the NWHM website.

Photo Credit: Sewall-Belmont House and Museum

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