Currently, in the nation’s Capital, there’s an Air and Space Museum, a Spy Museum, a Textile Museum, a National Postal Museum, even a Crime and Punishment Museum. But there is no national museum that tells the full story of the amazing, brilliant, courageous, innovative and sometimes defiant women who have helped to shape our history and make this country what it is.
This is just not right. So, in February, I introduced H.R. 863, with Congresswomen Marsha Blackburn and Eleanor Holmes Norton, which would form a commission to study the best and most practical ways to build a National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) on or near the National Mall. This bill has bi-partisan support and nearly 60 co-sponsors. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a companion bill in the Senate, which also enjoys bi-partisan support and has nearly 20 co-sponsors.
A NWHM in Washington D.C. would tell the fascinating, yet mostly untold stories of important women in American History, like Agent 355, the mysterious woman who sent vital information to General Washington during the Revolutionary War, or Hedy Lamarr, the luminous Hollywood star who invented a radio-guided torpedo that contained the technology that gave rise to cell phone, Wi-Fi and GPS. And it would most definitely chronicle the stories of important women from New York, like Eleanor Roosevelt and Bella Abzug.
As currently envisioned, the NWHM wouldn’t cost American taxpayers a dime. It would be funded and operated by the National Women’s History Museum, Inc., which would pay fair market value for the property and raise all the funds for construction and operating costs. The commission that our bill creates would be tasked with completing a report that contains recommendations for a museum location, organizational structure, construction costs and more. That report will be submitted to the Congress and President.
Currently, the NWHM consists of temporary exhibits, special events, and a website that contains a significant amount of fascinating content on women’s history. But women’s history needs a physical home.
Earlier this month Rep. Blackburn testified before a House Committee on our bill, which followed a similar Senate hearing. We still have more work to do but we’re making progress. And we won’t stop until we’ve turned this dream into a reality.
Carolyn Maloney represents New York’s 12th congressional district, which includes the Upper East Side.
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