Bipartisan Group Backs Creation of Smithsonian Women's History Museum

 A crowd gathers around a Red Cross ambulance during the women’s suffrage procession in Washington, 1913. Library of Congress via AP Images.
A crowd gathers around a Red Cross ambulance during the women’s suffrage procession in Washington, 1913. Library of Congress via AP Images.

A growing group of legislators is backing the creation of a new Smithsonian women’s history museum.


The Hill says there’s bipartisan support for the move, reporting that 198 lawmakers have signed on to sponsor legislation—up from 150 at the beginning of June. “I believe that there’s no reason not to support it,” said Democratic representative Carolyn Maloney of New York, who has been pushing for the museum since 1995. This latest drive started in November when, per the Washington Post, a congressional panel issued a report in support of the idea and outlining recommendations for how to make it happen. “It helps the country, it helps women, and it’s truly bipartisan,” Maloney added.

Creating a new Smithsonian outpost requires downright Herculean effort, the Hill notes, “as it involves acts of Congress, federal appropriations and coordination with the institution’s Board of Regents,” including jockeying for precious remaining space on the National Mall. It took decades to pull off the National Museum of African American History and Culture; the Hill recaps the substantial efforts on behalf of the women’s museum so far in detail. In hopes of making it actually happen, they’ve structured the bill so it wouldn’t require federal funds, Maloney explained: “The way we wrote the bill is that it would be part of the Smithsonian, but it would be built with private money.”

Sponsors now include 30 Republicans, among them California’s Ed Royce, who told The Hill that, “Everyone agrees that our National Mall should include a Smithsonian that tells the story of America’s great female leaders.”

He also said that: “Leaders like Carolyn Maloney, Laura Bush and countless others have done an exceptional job of including as many voices as possible in the conversation to build support for a National Women’s History Museum.”

A great big expensive monument to the work of all America’s women over the centuries is a lovely thought. Of course, one can’t help but wonder what kind of story a “truly bipartisan” women’s history museum will tell. Is there any way to pull this off without being forced to include some gotta hear both sides bullshit about Phyllis Schlafly? (Doing it without federal funds seems like a good start, as long as they don’t have to replace it with, say, corporate sponsors hungry for some of that empty “women’s leadership” shine.) Not to mention it’ll be the definition of a hollow victory if it opens and you can barely get a goddamned IUD anymore.

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