Archive for November, 1998

11/14/1998: Scholars and Museum Professionals Chart the Development and Program Design of a National Museum Dedicated to the History of Women

November 14th, 1998
WASHINGTON, DC, November 14, 1998 – Karen Staser, founder and president of the National Museum of Women’s History, announced the recommendations of twenty-one nationally known museum professionals and scholars of women’s history who met October 30 – November 1 to review the National Museum of Women’s History program design.Board of Directors Vice-President Joan Meacham, who chairs the subcommittee on program design of the NWHM Academic and Museum Professional Advisory Committee, said, “This meeting was pivotal for our museum’s administrative team. It helped us to focus on our primary mission – the development and design of a national museum dedicated to the history of women in America. We are especially grateful to the Ruth McCormick Tankersley Charitable Trust for their generous grant, which funded this project.”

Ms. Staser noted that “in addition to this meeting, our museum has received a lot of public support for several successful projects – from moving the statue of suffrage leaders Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott from the U.S. Capitol Crypt to the Capitol Rotunda last year to our latest accomplishment, launching the first CyberMuseum of women’s history at the National Press Club. We appreciate everyone’s participation, and we know the success of this museum is due to the support of each and every person interested in women’s history.”

The program began Friday, October 30th with a buffet dinner and reception at the newly renovated Hotel George on Capitol Hill that included representatives from the White House Office on Women’s Initiatives, the National Park Service, and other distinguished women’s organizations. Ms. Staser concluded the evening by presenting White House correspondent Helen Thomas with one of the first annual “Women Making History” awards given by the National Museum of Women’s History.

The following morning, Saturday, November 1, the subcommittee and members of the NWHM board of directors convened in the historic Sewall-Belmont House and began two days of intense discussion. Committed to displaying history as an ongoing process – “as a movie rather than a snapshot,” according to UCLA historian Ellen DuBois – they endorsed NWHM and urged the new museum to develop a multi-faceted, multi-cultural exhibit plan that would include four categories: permanent, changing, and traveling exhibits, and spaces for exhibits developed in partnership with communities.

Ms. Meacham added, “We feel our museum’s mission is to be more inclusive through exhibits and programming designed to interpret the diversity and complexity of women’s experiences over time.”

The group also recommended that the museum open with exhibits on the following themes: Quest for Freedoms, Women and Citizenship, Coming of Age, and an interpretive exhibit on women’s history to be entitled “Motherhood and Apple Pie: Changing Images of American Womanhood.”

Two historians, Allida Black of Franklin and Marshall College and Mary Rothschild of Arizona State University, joined the NWHM Board of Directors to represent the scholars.

Members of the NWHM Academic and Museum Professional Advisory Committee attending the meeting included: Adele Alexander (George Washington University), Allida Black (Franklin and Marshall College), Barbara Charles (Staples and Charles Exhibit Design), Terry L. Davis (American Association for State and Local History), Ellen DuBois (UCLA), Gail Dubrow (University of Washington), Jannelle Warren Findley (Arizona State University), Elisabeth Griffith (The Madeira School), Laura Klein (Pacific Lutheran University), Molly MacGregor (National Women’s History Project), Valerie Matsumoto (UCLA), Edith P. Mayo, (Smithsonian Institution), Genevieve McBride (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), Kristie Miller (Board of Directors, Chicago Tribune), Kym Rice (George Washington University), Vivien Rose (National Women’s Rights Historical Park), Mary Rothschild (Arizona State University), Anne Firor Scott (Duke University), Rosalyn Terborg-Penn (Morgan State University), and Judith Wellman (SUNY, Oswego).

Members unable to attend were: Roxana Adams (American Association of Museums), Helen Fisher (Rutgers University), Joan Jensen (University of New Mexico, Las Cruces), Dwight Pitcaithley (National Park Service), Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (Roosevelt Institute), and Patricia Williams (American Association of Museums).

The National Museum of Women’s History in Washington, DC is a non-partisan, nonprofit educational institution dedicated to preserving and celebrating the historic contributions and rich, diverse heritage of women, and restoring this heritage to mainstream culture.