It took 72 years for women to get the right to vote in this country. Will it take that long to build a museum on the National Mall exploring and celebrating the contributions of American women?
I certainly hope not!
The effort to build a National Women's History Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. is now in its 18th year...and the first step -- an easy one -- hangs in the balance over the next few weeks -- actually days.
The National Women's History Museum organization is asking Congress for something simple: The formation of a commission to investigate the feasibility of a national women's history museum on or adjacent to the National Mall.
This is the same process that other important museums (including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, scheduled to open next year, and the National Museum of the American Latino, which is still in the planning stage) have gone through in recent years. Again, all we are asking for is a COMMISSION to investigate the FEASIBILITY of a women's history museum in our nation's capital. Furthermore, this commission would be funded PRIVATELY and would cost American taxpayers NOTHING.
(Sorry about all of the CAPITALIZED key words -- as you can see, I feel very strongly about this!)
This request doesn't seem like a lot to ask. The House of Representatives has already passed the legislation, 383 to 33. But despite support from all of the women of the Senate, the companion legislation has been held up by two Senators.
The argument is that this Museum will ultimately cost the taxpayers money. Not so! The plan has always been for the Museum to be privately funded, and the legislation for the commission mandates that it be funded privately in perpetuity. If this is suspicious or impractical, let the commission report that finding. (And P.S., I currently serve on the Museum's board as its Treasurer, so I know what we've said!)
Some say that the Museum is going to have a viewpoint that is too liberal...others say too conservative...others say not academic enough. You be the judge...just take a look at the Museum's current website. The intent of the Museum is to represent and reflect the accomplishments of all women, as the website does now. So why not let the commission report its findings and viewpoint?
The commission's role is critical because the effort needs Congressional approval to gain necessary space at the National Mall, which the Museum may then pay for. The history of 51 percent of the country's population is basically unknown, and our country needs the best efforts of everyone, men and women, to flourish in these complex times. History inspires us for the future -- providing role models and vision.
I am hopeful that a decade from now we'll look back and say, why did it take so long?