WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins, R-Me., and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., along with Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., introduced legislation today to pave the way for a National Women’s History museum on a site near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The land is owned by the General Services Administration (GSA) and would be bought by the National Women’s History Museum, Inc. (NWHM) at a fair market value price. A companion House measure by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., was also introduced today.
The bill directs the GSA to enter into a long-term occupancy agreement with the NWHM, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational institution, to develop the site at 12th Street and Independence Avenue, SW.
"A women’s history museum is long overdue in the nation’s capital,” said Senator Collins. “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.
"The museum would help ensure that future generations understand what we owe to the many generations of American women that helped build, sustain, and advance our society. It is a great use for an empty lot on our National Mall, and it makes good fiscal sense.
“It is important to note that taxpayers will not shoulder the funding of this project. The proposed legislation calls for no new federal program and no new claims on the budget. The bill would simply direct the General Services Administration to negotiate and enter into an occupancy agreement with the National Women’s History Museum, Inc. to establish a museum on a tract of land near the Smithsonian Museums, close to the National Mall.
“In fact, the Museum would be putting dollars in the federal government’s pocket in order to occupy this space because the transaction would be at fair market value. This bill would be a win-win for the taxpayers and the Museum.”
“The National Women’s History Museum will honor the mothers of our country and the unique contributions women have made to America since its beginning,” said Senator Mikulski. “It will pay respect to all the forgotten women who have served this country. Women’s roles in history are often overlooked and undervalued. But we have shaped, and continue to shape, society – not only in terms of battles fought and won – but through great social movements. The history of women in America is inspiring. Women were the driving force behind the abolitionists, who helped end slavery and fought for the 14th Amendment. And of course, women led the suffragist movement, which sought to curb domestic violence by ending drinking and gave women control of their lives with the right to vote. The list goes on and on – and it is still growing. One way to honor their courage and hard work is through this museum. Another is to carry on their legacy. I vow to do just that. ”
“The fabric of our country’s rich history has been woven by generations of courageous women who continually made history as they broke down barriers, redefined what is possible, and left future generations with a greater country than the one they had known. It is important that we have a women’s history museum, so all Americans and visitors from around the world can learn more about the inspiring women who have helped build our country,” said Senator Hutchison.
Under Senator Collins’ bill, the National Women’s History Museum organization would be completely responsible for the design and construction of the museum. It is estimated that such a museum would draw more than 1.5 million visitors to the nation’s capital each year.
Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., Olympia Snowe, R-Me., Mary Landrieu, D-La., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mi., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Lisa Murkowski, R-Ak., Jeanne Shaheen, D-Nh., Kristen Gillibrand, D-Ny., Joe Lieberman, ID-Ct., Daniel Akaka, D-Hi., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Jeff Merkley, D-Or., and Mark Begich, D-Ak., are also co-sponsoring this legislation.