Women’s History Scholars Gather in D.C. to Discuss Future Women’s History Museum, Despite Historic Storm

On Tuesday, January 26th, scholars and museum practitioners from across the country braved a historic blizzard to gather in Washington, D.C. to discuss the theoretical and ethical dynamics of a future national women’s history museum. Over forty hardy scholars attended the event in person, braving delayed flights and difficult road conditions, while many participated and listened via phone and video conference. The full list of summit attendees is now available.

Highlights included:

  • Presentations on making the case for why a women’s history museum is necessary
  • Analyzing the relationship between academic and public history and the role a future museum could have in facilitating that relationship
  • Discussions about how to make a women’s history museum inclusive, accessible, and useful to a variety of communities.

Moderated by the inestimable A’Lelia Bundles, three panels presented and discussed these complex and delicate topics before opening it up to general audience Q&A.  The panels were as follows:

Panel I: Visions For The National Women’s History Museum
Discussion Topic: (Why) is a women’s history museum necessary? What should be its scope and shape? What should be its content? Should the museum include a research center component?
Panelists: Dr. Vicki Ruiz University of California, Irvine (Panel Chair- her remarks read by Jim Grossman, Executive Director for the American Historical Association), Dr. Debra Michals, Merrimack College, and Dr. Patricia Mooney-Melvin, Loyola University Chicago (remarks read by Page Harrington)

Panel II: Women’s History: Academic and Public:
Discussion Topic: What is the relationship between the two fields? What are the opportunities and limitations of each? What challenges do curators face in translating research into museum exhibitions? What kind of academic research is most helpful to curators and exhibit planners?
Panelists: Dr. Marla Miller, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Panel Chair), Dr. Heather Huyck, NCWHS Research and Interpretation Committee, Dr. Sarah Leavitt, the National Building Museum, Fath Ruffins, National Museum of American History, and Dr. Susan Strasser, University of Delaware

Panel III: Scholars and the Women’s History Museum in the Future
Discussion Topic: How can historians and other women help shape the museum going forward? How can they contribute to the Commission’s report? What role should they play in the museum’s strategic direction and/or governance? How can historians help mobilize support for the museum?
Panelists: Page Harrington, Sewall-Belmont House and Museum (Panel Chair), Dr. Tiffany Gill, University of Delaware, and Dr. Nicole Ivy, the American Alliance of Museums

For further comments, follow the tag #WmnHistSummit on Twitter to track the online conversation that occurred during the summit.

The Congressional Commission on a National Women’s History Museum hosted the event, with seven out of the eight Commissioners attending in-person to listen and consider the recommendations made by this remarkable gathering of minds. An organizing committee, led by Dr. Sonya Michel, worked tirelessly to organize the event’s speakers and programming. Without their help the Summit would not have happened.

Moving forward, the Commission will collaborate with these scholars in ongoing working groups, organized according to the topics discussed at this initial event.  Should you be a scholar, historian or museum practitioner that is interested in being involved in a working group, please send your credentials to Hilary McGraw at hmcgraw@womenshistorycommission.org.

 

acNote: The Commission owes a special and heartfelt thanks to the Atlantic Council for opening their doors at the very last minute when our previous location in a federal building was closed due to federal building weather closure requirements.  The Atlantic Council is an international think tank dedicated to strengthening the transatlantic dialog be promoting an essential forum for navigating the dramatic economic and political changes defining the twenty-first century.   Many thanks to our friends at the Council for warmly welcoming our group to their state-of-the-art facilities along with a wonderful lunch! www.atlanticcouncil.org

 

 

Scholar Summit Photo Gallery

A'Leila Bundles

A’Leila Bundles, summit moderator

 

Summit photos 040

Jim Grossman, Executive Director, American Historical Association speaking on behalf of Dr. Vicki Ruiz University of California, Irvine

 

Panel II: From Right to Left: Dr. Sarah Leavitt, Dr. Marla Miller, Dr. Heather Huyck, Dr. Susie Strasser, and Dr. Faith Ruffins

Panel II: From Right to Left: Dr. Sarah Leavitt, Dr. Marla Miller, Dr. Heather Huyck, Dr. Susie Strasser, and Dr. Fath Ruffins

 

Summit Attendees during the working lunch

Summit Attendees and Commissioners during the working lunch

 

Page Harrington, Executive Director, Sewall Belmont House

Page Harrington of Sewall Belmont House

 

Dr. Tiffany M Gill, Associate Professor of Black Studies and History, University of Delaware

Dr. Tiffany M Gill, Associate Professor of Black Studies and History, University of Delaware

 

Dr. Nicole Ivy, Museum Futurist, American Alliance of Museums

Dr. Nicole Ivy, Museum Futurist, American Alliance of Museums

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