The House of Representatives voted Tuesday, Feb. 11, to pass H.R. 1980. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), calls for the creation of a Smithsonian Women’s History Museum and includes cost-sharing language that is consistent with that used for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture—a 50/50 split of federal and private funds for the development and construction of a new museum. The bill must now pass through the Senate and then be signed by the President.
“With full support from Congress, the Smithsonian has proven adept at creating museums that paint a more comprehensive picture of the American experience,” said Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian. “We remain committed to that goal, and we look forward to working with Congress and supporters nationwide to illuminate the profound impact women have had on the American story.”
The Smithsonian is committed to recognizing and celebrating the stories of all Americans. If the legislation is enacted into law, the Smithsonian will use its resources and expertise to create a world-class museum dedicated to telling the stories of women’s contributions throughout American history.
In the meantime, the Smithsonian has used funds appropriated by Congress ($4 million) and privately raised funds to begin a robust program of exhibitions, public programs and research focusing on women’s contributions to American history. In 2018, the Smithsonian officially launched the American Women’s History Initiative—“Because of Her Story”—to document, research, collect and exhibit the stories of women who have helped shape America. To date the initiative has:
- Raised nearly $10 million toward the development of exhibitions, programs, educational material and digital content across the Smithsonian
- Hired four curators dedicated to women’s history, with five more curatorial positions pending
- Mentored 13 paid interns through the Because of Her Story Internship Program
- Published Smithsonian American Women, a book that offers a unique, panoramic look at women’s history through objects from the Smithsonian’s collections