Maloney Announces Bill To Create National Museum Of Women’s History (Queens Gazette, 4/13/2011)
Bipartisan legislation which would establish a National Museum of Women’s History on the National Mall in Washington was announced last week by Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (DQueens/ Manhattan).
The lawmaker acknowledged the announcement came soon after the death of her mentor, former Congressmember Geraldine Ferraro, who was hailed throughout the nation and the world for her achievements on behalf of women during her lifetime.
“It is a sad coincidence,” said Maloney, “that my mentor, Geraldine Ferraro, died the week we planned to reintroduce this legislation. Hers is just one story that the museum will honor, along with Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to the U.S. House; Hattie Wyatt Caraway, the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate; and Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman elected to both the House and the Senate.”
Maloney also noted, “The 235 years of our nation’s history are replete with women who have been trailblazers, from Abigail Adams to Kristi Yamaguchi, but there is no institution dedicated to chronicling half our population’s stories. Our sons and daughters need to know these stories.”
Describing the situation that has persisted for centuries, she stated, “Of the 210 statues in the U.S. Capitol, only nine are of women. Of the 2,400 national historic landmarks in the country, only five percent document women’s achievements. So a National Women’s History Museum that will celebrate, honor and document the roles women have played in American life is long overdue.”
Maloney, who joined with Congressmember Judy Biggert (R-Illinois) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) in sponsoring the historic measure, said it authorizes the General Services Administration to sell property located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue to non-profit organizations which would raise the funds to build and operate the museum.
Biggert said that should not be a problem. “Thanks to the generous support of private contributors all across the country, the dream of a national museum dedicated to honoring the contributions of American women is close to becoming a reality,” said Biggert.
She added, “This is an exciting opportunity to create a permanent educational institution here in Washington that will serve as an inspiration to the millions of young women and girls who visit our nation’s capital each year. I look forward to working with Representative Maloney, Senator Collins and all of my colleagues to send this bill to the president’s [Obama’s] desk.”
Collins noted, “A women’s history museum is long overdue in the nation’s capital. It would be the first institution in the region that showcases the many important social, economic, cultural and political contributions that women have made to our country. And all this could be done at virtually no cost to taxpayers.”
Collins added that the museum would help ensure that future generations understand what is owed to past generations of women that helped to build our society and nation.
Collins emphasized that there would be no taxpayer funds involved in the undertaking. The legislation, she explained, simply directs the General Services Administration to negotiate and enter into an occupancy agreement with the National Women’s History Museum to establish a museum on a tract of land near the Smithsonian Museum located at 12th Street SW and Independence Avenue SW in Washington, D.C.
As a matter of fact, she said, the Museum would be enriching the government by occupying the space because the land would be purchased at full market value.
“This bill would be a win-win for the taxpayers and the Museum,” Collins said.
The bill has 11 Democratic and six Republican co-sponsors in the House and three Senate co-sponsors. Similar legislation passed the House in the 111th Congress, but died in the Senate. The project was established and will be funded by the National Women’s History Museum.