While the great women's rights advocates Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (pictured) surely would be proud that the U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to establish a National Women's History Museum in Washington, some, including our art critic, Christopher Knight, worry that the prime federal real estate where it would be built, the National Mall in Washington, is in bad condition and in danger of being overrun by haphazard development.
The bipartisan bill passed on a voice vote; if Senate approval follows, backers of the private, nonprofit museum, aimed at illuminating the social, cultural and historical roles played by American women, would have three years to buy a parcel alongside the mall from the government, and five years to begin construction.
According to the museum's website, it would cost $250 million to $350 million in privately raised funds to build the facility and pay for its first two years of operation. The organization's assets totaled $533,000 at the end of 2008, according to its most recent available federal tax return.
"For the first time in our nation's history, it appears Women will finally have a front row seat on our National Mall," Joan Bradley Wages, the museum's president, said in a statement -- the capital W in "Women" being her own.