Donald Trump Asked to Support Proposed Smithsonian Women’s Museum

Women are calling for a museum of their own on the National Mall.

The women who are leading the charge for a Smithsonian Women's Museum. Courtesy American Museum of Women's History Congressional Commission
The women who are leading the charge for a Smithsonian Women's Museum. Courtesy American Museum of Women's History Congressional CommissionCourtesy American Museum of Women's History Congressional Commission.

A bipartisan group of women are rallying for the establishment of an American Museum of Women’s History as part of the Smithsonian Institute. In order to push legislation forward, they asking President-elect Donald Trump to support the initiative, reports the New York Times.

The nation’s capital is already home to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. In New York, the New-York Historical Society will unveil its women’s history center later this year, while the Brooklyn Museum is already home to the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. But a museum on the National Mall is a different story.

In December 2014, the Women’s History Congressional Commission looked into whether such a museum is necessary, and what shape it might take. Led by executive director Wendy S. Pangburn, the committee conducted a survey of women of all ages and backgrounds, as well as women’s history experts, museum professionals, and major women’s organizations.

“Women are over 50 percent of America, yet the exhibits and statues attributing success to women are minuscule, throughout the country,” said Jane Abraham, chairman of the commission, to the Creators Project. “People don’t know the stories of women who actually discovered things or were the first to design innovations.”

Courtesy American Museum of Women's History Congressional Commission.

Courtesy American Museum of Women’s History Congressional Commission.

Based on its findings, the committee presented a report to Congress on November 16, calling for “a national museum dedicated to showcasing the historical experiences and impact of women in this country,” according to the Times. The plan would be to open the institution in a prominent location in Washington, DC, preferably on the National Mall.

“The women’s tale has not been revealed, has not been properly identified or properly articulated,” Emily Rafferty, the former president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, told the Times.

There are currently 19 museums in the Smithsonian Institute, including the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened last May. It was an immediate hit with visitors, with tickets selling out both during the initial opening and with the launch of online ticketing in December.

To add an institution dedicated to women to the fold, Congress would have to pass additional legislation approving a building site and allotting federal funding to the project. The African American Museum took 100 years to go from idea to reality, as outlined in Robert Leon Wilkins’s new book Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100 Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The Smithsonian seems to be less than enthused about the proposal. Spokesperson Linda St. Thomas told the Times that secretary David J. Skorton does not believe a new museum is possible at this time, but that the organization believes in the importance of representing women and their contributions across its institutions.

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