As we well know, March is designated Women’s History Month. But think about this…is there a museum dedicated to women’s contributions to our country’s history? There should be, right? The 25-year-old National Women’s History Museum IS very much alive but only online — with over 4 million visitors per year to their vibrant and engaging website. Plus, they have 600,000 followers across social media. Previously funded by donations from individuals and corporations, Congress, in February 2020, voted to fund a permanent site where woman will be included in the stories of our nation. It’s about time.
About 10 years ago, there was objection from former Senator Tom Coburn who famously said, “We don’t need a women’s history museum because we have the Quilter’s Hall of Fame in Indiana and the National Cowgirl Museum in Texas.”
Seenyer spoke with Holly Hotchner, President and CEO (formerly the first museum director at the New-York Historical Society) about the NWHM. She told us, “This year, we are celebrating our 25th anniversary and we are honored that we play a critical role in ensuring that women’s stories, contributions and accomplishments are included in the fabric of our national narrative.”
The NWHM illuminates women’s history by providing deep dish dives into topics such as Activism or the Colonial Era, plus the Suffrage Resource Center. They provide both a populist and scholarly history of American women. Current online exhibits include The Women of NASA, Game Changers and Women in Sports. There are digital classroom resources, such as downloadable posters, as well as virtual exhibits and lectures. And for the K-2 set getting started on their women’s history knowledge, there are the Brave New Girls Virtual Storytimes.
And what about that brick and mortar museum? According to Holly, “There can be no better time to build the NWHM. We’re finalizing plans for our first physical location in Washington, D.C., set to open in 2022. Today, women are not only finding their voices, but their voices are being heard.”
There’s been a lot of high profile support of the NWHM. Meryl Streep was the spokesperson and a significant donor, with her gifts including the $1 million she made for playing Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. At an event for the NWHM, where she was being honored for her philanthropy, she said, “We’ve got to pull together and get this done. As Margaret Thatcher said, ‘If you want something spoken about, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.'”
How can we be a part of the narrative of the NWHM? Do you have a story to share about a deserving woman — living or in memoriam —in your life? With words and pictures, you can create and submit a lasting memorial to a special woman. The NWHM’s Chronicles of American Women: Your History Makers brings to light the stories of America’s women. Log on and share that family story about your Great-Aunt Sally, a trailblazing suffragette.
So brava to the NWHM and their efforts over the last 25 years to when it comes to U.S. women’s history. Women’s contributions and accomplishments have been largely overlooked and omitted from mainstream culture. A study of history books in the classroom showed just .5% of the pages are given to women in our history. As shared by Holly, “As we all work towards opening the doors to our first home in Washington, D.C., we’ll continue to deliver content for learners of all ages, so that women’s history is accessible and available to everyone.”
It’s time to swing open the doors to the National Women’s History Museum, and put it on our agenda along with so many of our other faves in D.C.