Everything We Know About the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum

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The Smithsonian Women’s History Museum DetailsBettmann - Getty Images

The Smithsonian's newest museum, the American Women's History Museum, likely won't open for another decade. The museum is touted as advancing "the understanding of women’s contributions to various fields throughout history that have influenced the direction of the United States."

As plans develop around the American Women's History Museum, we'll keep track of all the news. Here's what you need to know:

Congress approved the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum in December 2020.

The bill, H.R. 1980, "Smithsonian Women's History Museum Act," was passed in December 2020. "For too long, women’s stories have been left out of the telling of our nation’s history, but with this vote, we begin to rectify that," Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, the primary sponsor of the House bill, said in a statement at the time. "Americans of all ages deserve to see and be inspired by the remarkable women who helped shape this nation. Seeing role models doing the thing to which we aspire can change the course of someone’s life. How fitting that we pass this bill as we mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment and in the year in which we elected our first woman vice president."

There are two proposed locations for the museum.

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U.S. Air Force - Getty Images

The Smithsonian’s Board of Regents proposed two locations in October 2022 for the Women's History Museum and the National Museum of the American Latino. One spot will be on the National Mall, the other will be just east of the Tidal Basin. (Here's a map.)

Lisa Sasaki is the interim director.

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Emmanuel Mones/Smithsonian Institution

Sasaki was appointed interim director in March 2021. Previously, she was director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. She also has worked at the Oakland Museum of California, the Japanese American National Museum, the Southeastern Colorado Heritage Center, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The advisory council is an all-star group of women.

The advisory board was named in August 2021. It includes Tory Burch, Lynda Carter, Rosario Dawson, Billie Jean-King, and more.

"As someone who helped bring a museum to life on the National Mall, I know firsthand how indispensable an advisory board is," Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III, said in a statement. "We have been fortunate to enlist an extraordinary group to help envision, create and guide this new museum, enabling the Smithsonian to expand the breadth and vividness of the American story by illuminating the essential contributions women have made to our nation." (Bunch was the founding director of the African American Museum.)

Prominent philanthropic women are the founding donors of the museum.

At the start of Women's History Month 2023, the Smithsonian announced more than $55 million in donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Pivotal Ventures, Alice L. Walton Foundation, Acton Family Giving, Target Corporation, Bank of America, and Tory Burch.

"The stories we tell about our country’s history so often overlook the contributions of the women in every generation whose efforts and ideas helped make us who we are today," Melinda French Gates said in a statement. "By paying tribute to the women who shaped our past, the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum empowers and inspires the ones who will shape our future."

"We are so grateful to begin Women’s History Month with the support of such a stellar group of donors who are dedicated to bringing the story of the American woman to light," Sasaki said in a statement. "Together, we will create a museum that celebrates the women who have helped build this country. These donations are pivotal in the realization of this vision."

Development is expected to take at least 10 years.

The earliest we can likely expect to see the museum open doors is 2030.

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