Rep. Maloney Receives Final Bipartisan Congressional Commission Report on National Women’s Museum
WASHINGTON, DC – 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, received the group’s final report today. Over the last 18 months, the bipartisan Commission engaged with historians, scholars and various experts to draft the report and make their recommendations for an achievable plan to establish a national women’s history museum in Washington, D.C. After receiving the group’s recommendations, the Congresswoman issued the following statement;
“The first step to creating a national women’s history museum in our nation’s capital is finally complete. Thanks to the Commission’s bipartisan work and thorough recommendations, we have an achievable plan to build this museum that will honor the experiences and contribution of women to our great nation.
“I want to personally thank all the commissioners – Jane Abraham, Mary Boies, Bridget Bush, Pat Mitchell, Marilyn Musgrave, Maria Socorro Pesqueira, and Emily Rafferty – for taking on this monumental task. I also want to thank dear friend Joan Wages, who for 20 years has led the efforts of the National Women’s History Museum Organization, along with her Board Chair Susan Whiting.
“This truly bipartisan effort would not have been possible without my partner in getting this bill passed – Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7); her advocacy was absolutely critical. Thank you also to Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) who championed the bill in the Senate every step of the way and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi who has been extremely engaged in this effort. We would also not be here without the support of the House Republican leaders, including former Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker John Boehner who helped us get the Commission bill over the finish line.
“This Commission, assembled by Republican and Democratic leadership in both the House and Senate, showed true distinction and professionalism, exemplifying what we can achieve through sincere bipartisan cooperation. There are issues that should be bipartisan – honoring the contributions of half of Americans to our great nation’s history should certainly be one of them.
“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 concluded, the American people need and deserve this museum. A women’s history museum is way overdue. Visitors to our nation’s capital deserve to be inspired by all those who shaped our country – including countless great women.
“Looking forward, I will be taking the Commission’s recommendations into account as we begin to draft bipartisan a bill for the establishment of a museum. In the meantime, our next critical step is to establish a Smithsonian-wide women’s initiative that will lay the groundwork for this needed museum.
“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.
“I look forward to the next steps and continuing to move this process forward so that we can finally create a national museum of women’s history.”
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 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.