Maloney Amendment to Fund Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative Passes House

Sep 7, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed an amendment by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) to provide $2 million for the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative. The initiative aims to make important improvements to existing museum exhibitions that would more accurately and completely tell the story of our nation’s history and will help lay the groundwork for a future Smithsonian museum dedicated to American women’s history..

Rep. Maloney is the sponsor of H.R. 19, Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act, to establish a comprehensive museum dedicated to the history of American women on the National Mall. The bipartisan bill is currently cosponsored by 247 members of the House. Rep. Maloney’s amendment was added to H.R. 3354, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018; which is currently under consideration in the House.

“I am thrilled the House passed my amendment to provide $2 million to the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative. For too long, the contributions and accomplishments of women have been left out when we tell the history of our country. I believe getting this new initiative underway is an important first step to help lay the groundwork for a future Smithsonian museum dedicated to American women’s history..”

Background on the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative and HR 19

The Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative will amplify women's voices to honor the past, inform the present and inspire the future. Under the Initiative, the Smithsonian will:

  • Recruit at least six new curators for five-year terms to work in museums across the Smithsonian and provide start-up funds for their research, exhibitions, and programs.
  • Survey the Smithsonian's collections for objects relevant to women's history and establish an acquisitions fund to build the collection.
  • Hire an education specialist for a five-year term and allocate start-up funds to develop programs and educational materials.
  • Produce an annual symposium and other public programs, such as lectures, film series and curator talks.
  • Mentor ten paid interns each year.

Rep. Maloney introduced H.R. 19 along with Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) on March 30, 2017 and the bill currently has 247 cosponsors. Numbered 19 in honor of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, this bill:

  • Establishes a Smithsonian national museum for the collection, study and establishment of programs covering the contributions of women to various fields throughout history;
  • Establishes an advisory council consisting of 25 members appointed by the Smithsonian Board of Regents to make recommendations concerning planning, design and construction, operations and finances, and programming for the museum;
  • Directs Smithsonian to appoint a Director to manage the museum and carry out educational programs in cooperation with other Smithsonian institutions and schools;
  • Instructs the Board of Regents to choose one of two locations for the museum site, both located on the National Mall and recommended by the Congressional Commission and authorizes the transfer of the chosen site to the Smithsonian Institution;
  • Ensures that private funds finance the construction of the museum building, while authorizing federal funds for the planning, design, and operation of the museum by the Smithsonian.

 

H.R. 19 is based on the work of the bipartisan American Museum of Women's History Congressional Commission, which was created in 2014  to study the need for such a museum through legislation introduced by Reps. Maloney and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7) in the House and former Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) in the Senate. The bipartisan commission submitted its report to Congress in November 2016 with a unanimous recommendation that a comprehensive women’s history museum should be established on or near the National Mall as part of the Smithsonian Institution.

The bipartisan Commission’s report found:

  • The future Museum of Women’s History should be part of the Smithsonian;
  • The exhibits and collections should be inclusive and represent a diverse array of viewpoints and perspectives of women who have helped shape America;
  • The museum deserves a prominent location on or very close to the National Mall;
  • Private sector money should finance the construction of a world-class museum.

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