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One of These Things Is Not Like the Other: Here's Who Will Be Included in New Museum of American Women

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

The Smithsonian’s new Museum of American Women, which has not received final congressional approval, plans to include biological men in exhibits once it’s established.

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Touting $55 million in pledged donations on Monday, the museum’s interim director, Lisa Sasaki, said the funds “are pivotal in the realization” of the museum’s vision, which will pay “tribute to the women who shaped our past” and inspire those who shape the future.   

Sasaki said the museum would be organized around themes including women’s contributions to politics, entertainment and science. When asked about individuals that visitors might expect to see, she named the suffragist and civil rights activist Mary Burnett Talbert, the “Shanghai Express” actress Anna May Wong and the breast cancer researcher Shyamala Gopalan, who was Vice President Kamala Harris’s mother.

There is no monolithic experience of womanhood, and Sasaki emphasized that her museum would not attempt to create a singular narrative. The institution will include an oral history program for visitors to submit their own stories, for example. But Sasaki said that she plans to include transgender women, who have been subject to increasing harassment and violence at a time when there is a national discussion, and deep partisan divide, about the acceptance of transgender identities. (The Washington Post)

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 There is currently no timeline for when the museum will open, as locations are still being considered and Congress must designate the space. But the team of 14 employees are already working with an annual $2 million budget to begin planning.

“We have a job to build a museum that’s going to serve the public for a very, very long time,” Sasaki said. “From the DNA of this museum, there has been a desire to be inclusive.”

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