For the past year, I have had the privilege of being a board member of the Women’s Museum of California. When I first joined the board, I learned that we were one of only five women ‘s museums in the country. Can you imagine only five? Sadly, the Texas women’s museum has had to close its doors. Fortunately, our small but vibrant museum in San Diego is growing. We are now entering our 30th year, and in August, we are moving to a larger and lovely new location in an expanding cultural arts venue at NCT at Liberty Station in Point Loma.
The museum was founded by Mary B. Maschal and other women who realized that women were not included in the mainstream version of history. Maschal was passionate about the endeavor and devoted many years of her life collecting and preserving numerous historic artifacts that exemplify and document the life histories and achievements of many women, in both the United States and abroad. In 1983 she applied for non-profit status and named her body of work The Women’s History Reclamation Project (WHRP).
For the next fourteen years, Maschel created a living museum of women’s history in her own home, filling virtually every room with historic documents, banners, posters, and books. She and others also shared this archival collection through lectures on women’s history to school children, professional and social organizations, and community groups. After much prodding , Maschel permitted her home to function as the WHRP headquarters and invited the public to view exhibitions of her vast collection. So much excitement was generated by the archival holdings, that it became obvious that San Diego needed a museum dedicated solely to women and their stories.
In 1997, the WHRP moved into the second phase of its embryonic existence and relocated to the ART UNION Building in Golden Hill neighborhood of San Diego; in December of 2003, the WHRP changed its name to the Women’s History Museum and Educational Center or WHM.
During the ensuing years, the WHM has blossomed into a full-fledged women’s history museum and valuable community educational resource. The energy within the walls of the small storefront is palpable; the exhibits inspiring, the historic clothing collection fascinating, the workshops and lectures great, and the staff and many volunteers who manage all these things are amazingly dedicated to its success. In addition, the staff develops and implements educational events including art shows, stages performance presentations, maintains a library and research archive, and provides speakers for the community through its Speaker’s Bureau.
In 2011 the name of the organization was changed to the Women’s Museum of California with the tag line “preserving the past…inspiring the future”. Now the museum is moving into its third phase. It has outgrown its small facility and is thrilled to be on the move to Liberty Station.
Learn more about the Women’s Museum of California click here.