If you’ve had the good fortune to visit our nation’s capitol, chances are you’ve visited a museum or two. The National Mall offers a dozen free museums, each honoring an important part of American culture, including art, history and even spacecraft. While these are all very lovely, they pay homage to primarily male achievements. What’s noticeably absent from the heart of D.C. is a museum dedicated to celebrating American women’s contributions.
But it won’t stay that way for long, if Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has her way. For years, the feisty Congresswoman has been campaigning for a National Women’s History Museum to take its rightful place in D.C.
It hardly seems controversial, but Maloney’s efforts have faced opposition from some of her Congressional colleagues, who have accused her of wanting to build a shrine to liberal women.
These nay-sayers would benefit from a quick history refresher: many influential American women, including suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul, may have been progressive, but were card-carrying Republicans. Besides, Maloney has crossed the aisle and teamed up with a Republican — Marsha Blackburn (TN) — to galvanize support for the museum. That’s right, sisterhood trumps partisanship.
It looks like things may finally move forward. This May, the House passed legislation introduced by Maloney and Blackburn to form a Congressional Commission on the Potential Creation of a National Women’s History Museum. According to a press release, this bill would establish an eight-member commission to prepare a report containing recommendations for establishing and maintaining the museum. It’s now headed to the Senate, where Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will take the reins.
Why is this so important? Because women – who comprise 53% of our population – have made substantial contributions to our nation, from politics to film, science, diplomacy, art, medicine and so much more. And yet, women’s history is severely under-recognized in textbooks, memorials, museum exhibits and many other cultural and historical venues.
Write and call your Senators and to urge their support for a National Women’s History Museum! The museums and memorials in our nation’s Capitol demonstrate what we collectively value. It’s time to send a message to American women and girls that our struggles, our achievements matter.