Committee on House Administration Passes Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act

November 12, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Committee on House Administration passed H.R. 1980, legislation to establish a comprehensive women’s history museum within the Smithsonian Institution. The bill was reported favorably out of Committee by a unanimous vote.

“It is impossible to tell the story of America without telling the story of American women. From the days of our nation’s infancy through today, the United States has benefitted from the contributions and sacrifices of women,” said Chairperson Zoe Lofgren. “The contributions and experience of American women deserve celebration and recognition, and I can think of few better ways to do so than by establishing a women’s history museum at the Smithsonian.”

“It is important that all Americans are represented by the nation’s largest cultural institution, the Smithsonian, and I appreciate the bipartisan work from my colleagues, over 290 cosponsors strong, in taking this meaningful step toward achieving that goal,” said Ranking Member Rodney Davis.

“Thank you to Chairwoman Lofgren for today’s vote and her leadership – it takes a woman to get the job done. With the Smithsonian Women’s History Museum – the first comprehensive women’s history museum in the country – we can finally tell the other half of our nation’s story,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney. “But creating this museum isn’t just about understanding our past; it’s an investment in our future. In celebrating the achieves of women in history, we’re educating and inspiring the next generation to make history themselves. I’ve worked my entire career to make sure women are represented in the halls of Congress and seats of power. I’m proud that today, we’ve moved closer to the day when women are celebrated for the history they’ve made and more young women are inspired to make history.”

Background:

H.R. 1980 is the culmination of nearly two decades of advocacy led by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to establish a national museum that recognizes and uplifts the contributions of women to America’s history. The popular, bipartisan bill has 293 cosponsors, including 59 Republicans.

In December 2014, the American Museum of Women’s History Congressional Commission was established to study the need for a women’s history museum. In November 2016, the Commission submitted their report to Congress with the unanimous recommendation that a comprehensive women’s history museum should be established near the National Mall as part of the Smithsonian Institution.

In a report, the Commission found that – despite representing 51% of the population – the role women have played in our nation’s history has been largely underrepresented. Only five percent of the approximately 2,400 national monuments honor women, and just nine of the 91 statues in the U.S. Capitol’s Sanctuary Hall depict women. The story of America is incomplete when the contributions of women are relegated to the sidelines.

In addition to oversight of federal elections and House operations, the Committee on House Administration is responsible for oversight of the Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act:

  • Establishes a Smithsonian national museum for the collection, study and establishment of programs covering the historical contribution of women to various fields;
  • Establishes an advisory council consisting of 25 members appointed by the Smithsonian Board of Regents to make recommendations concerning planning, design and construction, operations and finances, and programming for the museum;
  • Directs Smithsonian to appoint a Director to manage the museum and carry out educational programs in cooperation with other Smithsonian institutions and schools;
  • Instructs the Board of Regents to choose either one of two locations for the museum site, both located on the National Mall and recommended by the Congressional Commission and authorizes the transfer of the chosen site to the Smithsonian Institution or an alternative location selected at the discretion of the Smithsonian Board of Regents, setting a preference for sites on or near the National Mall;
  • Provides that a combination of federally appropriated and privately raised funds finance the construction of the museum building, mirroring the legislative model that successfully established the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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