Women’s History in Need of Home

I spent several hours over the July 4th weekend at the Newseum.  As with a weekend with visiting family, something touristy must be done.  I’d never been before, and as the it is fairly new, with much interactive exhibits, I was excited to see everything!  What I didn’t expect from anything done in this day in age, is how remnants of the women’s movement were carefully placed throughout the museum.  With little mention or focus, little attention, place off the side or down low in many exhibits, I found the information and artifacts interesting.  But I couldn’t help wonder, was anyone else seeing this? The National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) has an exhibit on women in journalism from Jamestown to World War I.  Where can you see this?  Just go to their website: http://www.nwhm.org/.  That’s right - no building to go visit!  There has been a battle to purchase land to build the museum for several years.  Most recently last fall a hold was put on it by two Republican Senators because women already have museums, such as the Quilters Museum of Fame and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am not a quilter or a cowgirl.  I don’t know how to sow, and while I spent a lot of time in high school playing Cowboy Take Me Away, I never actually became a cowgirl.  I’ve never even been on a horse! These museums don’t apply to me.  The exhibits online at the NWHM do however apply to me.  I find the topics interesting and would love to spend an afternoon browsing through an actual building with all this information in one place!  I have been at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. It was a great experience, and they have some interesting traveling exhibits.  It is impressive with the lack of interest the general public has in women artists that there is an entire museum dedicated to them, right in the middle of Washington, DC. In an article published in March of this year, Joan Wages, NWHM president and CEO said “Women are being left out of the telling of our national story and that’s what we have to change.” As half of the population, it is time women are included in the history of this country, and our role in it shared with young girls, and boys who do not get the full picture in school.  The building is important as a symbol, an educational center, a gathering place.  While the Internet seems to have become king, physical spaces are still important to see artifacts, interact and learn from exhibits and other visitors. Meryl Streep, who has been raising money to achieve this dream, said last fall “Museums are especially important in Washington, DC, seat of our national heritage, memorialized in marble and granite, glass, stone and steel.  But there is no Women’s History Museum in Washington”. It is time there was one.     *Photos taken by writer with camera phone during museum visit.  Apologies for crudeness of pictures.

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