Congresswoman Praises Commission’s Bipartisan Cooperation, Will Work to Craft Legislation to Establish Museum on National Mall
NEW YORK – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), lead House sponsor of the bill to create a Congressional Commission to study a national women’s history museum, today was joined on the steps of City Hall with New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, Councilman Ben Kallos, and women leaders to hail the final bipartisan report from the American Museum of Women’s History Congressional Commission. The report recommends the creation of a new Smithsonian Museum for American Women’s History on the National Mall. Over the last 18 months, the bipartisan Commission has engaged with historians, scholars and various experts to draft the report and make their recommendations to establish a national women’s history museum on or very close to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
“The first step to creating a national women’s history museum in our nation’s capital is finally complete,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “It took 16 years to pass the bill creating the Commission, and I am very proud about the incredible work it has done. With this thorough report, we have an achievable plan to build this museum that will honor the experiences and contributions of women to our great nation. This museum will be inclusive, scholarly and representative of the wide array of viewpoints, perspectives and achievements that have shaped our great nation. As the Commission unanimously concluded, the American people need and deserve this museum. A museum dedicated to half the population is long overdue. Visitors to our nation’s capital deserve to be inspired by all those who shaped our country – including countless great women. We cannot empower the women of this country if we fail to recognize them and their achievements – our founding mothers deserve to be honored alongside our founding fathers and we all deserve the opportunity to learn the complete account of our country’s history.”
“Women are statistically underrepresented in every major area of American culture, and that includes its history,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Institutions around the world are filled with the stories of men who have achieved greatness, but the women who stood alongside them or independently paved their own paths are notably missing. It is time for that to change in this country, and this report is a major step toward making that happen. In 2014, the City Council passed a resolution calling upon the US Senate to commission this study, and it is heartening to see it take shape today. We are the Council that created the Young Women’s Initiative to support young women around the city in combating chronic racial and gender inequality, and the movement for an historic museum celebrating the overcoming of those very things is a testament to just how far we can go. I thank the Commission for their timely work, and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for her leadership on one day having a Smithsonian Museum of American Women’s History open and operating in our nation’s capital.”
“From politics, government and law, to medicine, science, the arts and education, women have led the charge for progress and change across every field and industry for generations,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “We know the great work we have done, but we want our daughters and granddaughters to know about the strong women who came before them. I want to thank Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for her commitment to ensuring we honor the traditions of the trailblazers who came before us.”
“Young women must have a museum to commemorate incredible women throughout American history—a place for the next generation of women leaders, CEOs, and American Presidents to draw from,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “The Commission’s Report shows we need a dedicated National Women’s History Museum and outlines an achievable vision for it. I commend Congresswoman Maloney and her colleagues on both sides of the aisle for passing the bill that led to this report and for continuing to work toward the founding of a museum where all can go for incredible stories, inspiration, and reflection.”
The Report’s Conclusions:
In summary, the report makes the following conclusions:
- The U.S. needs a museum dedicated to the achievements and contributions of women throughout the history of the country;
- The museum should be part of the Smithsonian Institution;
- The exhibits and collections should be inclusive and represent a diverse array of viewpoints and perspectives of women that have helped shape America;
- The museum is deserving of a prominent location on or very close to the National Mall;
- Construction and operations of the established museum must be supported by both private and public funds. It is not feasible to create a museum that operates solely on private funds.
The report also lays out a 10-year strategic plan for fundraising and construction of a women’s history museum in three critical phases: (1) support for an American Women’s History Initiative within the Smithsonian Institute to lay the foundation for establishing a museum with special exhibits and planning activities, (2) the transfer of a prominent plot of land to the Smithsonian by Congress, and finally, (3) a public-private partnership to complete a capital campaign to raise construction funds.
Creating the Commission:
Congresswoman Maloney has been advocating and working for a national museum of women’s history since 1998, when she first introduced legislation to create a Commission to study this possibility. Finally passed into law in late 2014, the legislation established a privately-funded Commission to prepare a report with recommendations for establishing and maintaining a National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C. The 8-member Commission, composed of four Republicans and for four Democrats, worked for 18 months to produce the report and submit it to Congress. Members of the Commission were appointed by former Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
This bipartisan legislation passed by a vote of 383 to 33 in the House on May 7, 2014. The Senate legislation introduced by Senators Collins and Mikulski was cosponsored by 39 Senators, including all 20 women Senators. The legislation was added to a package of Natural Resources bills, which was later attached as a separate title of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015.