12/29/2011 04:03 pm ET Updated Jan 03, 2012

Meryl Streep Plans To Open Women's History Museum

Meryl Streep will appear as Margaret Thatcher in the new film, "The Iron Lady," but the Oscar-winning actress has more on her mind that merely playing celebrated women; she wants to create a museum for them.

Streep is spearheading the effort to erect the National Women's History Museum in a space adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. "History until the 20th century was written by one member of the human family and it wasn't the mother," Streep said in an interview earlier this month. "It was dad. That's who wrote history and ... what was important? Movements of armies, sovereignty of nations, all sorts of things. But women were there all along and they have incredible stories that we don't know anything about."

The $400 million project is being financed privately with $1 million donated by Streep. The museum's plans must await a full vote in both the House and Senate, though the bill allowing the construction of the museum has already passed committees in both bodies..

Streep has become the public face of the museum's efforts, sending fundraising letters and participating in events. Streep said she was inspired to take up the cause by her grandmother, who was alive prior to the 19th amendment being passed.

"My grandmother had three children in school and she would have to go to the golf course and get my grandfather off the ninth tee to make him go to the school board election, 'cause she was not allowed to vote," the actress said. "She's so vivid in my life. I think that that memory of when we were disenfranchised is important to learn."

Correction: We previously reported that the bill had been passed in the House when it actually only passed in committees for both the House and Senate.