The National Women’s History Museum has come one step closer to fulfilling a 13-year goal of opening its own building in the District after the House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing the purchase of land for the museum on the National Mall.

The bill, which was passed on Oct. 14, directs the General Services Administration to sell federal property at 12th Street and Independence Avenue to the National Women’s History Museum.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). The bill will now move to the Senate for approval.

“Women have waited too long for their own museum in the nation’s capital,” Norton said in a press release. “I deeply appreciate the strong commitment of the women who conceived the National Museum idea and their determination to do whatever it took to get it done.”

The National Women’s History Museum was founded in 1996 but currently only exists online. The museum has been working toward obtaining a physical space since its inception.

“We have hopes for it being a quick process,” said Joan Bradley Wages, president and chief executive officer of the National Women’s History Museum. “[But] there are no assurances when working with Congress.”

The group’s founders originally hoped to secure a building at 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the construction of which began in 1990 as a part of the Federal Triangle Development Act. In 1998, however, Congress designated the building as the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

“We thought that it should’ve been an easy site, but it turned out to be more difficult to get than we had expected,” Wages said.

Without a physical space, the museum has focused on advancing women’s history and contributions through materials offered on its Web site, various exhibits and events.

“There are museums for stamps and spies, for news and for poetry – but today’s action by the House means women are on our way toward a `museum of our own.’ What women have contributed to the building of our country is a story long overdue for the telling,” Maloney said in a press release.

“This is great news that the National Women’s History Museum bill has passed through the House,” said Laura Kovach, director of Georgetown University’s Women’s Center. “Having this particular museum would highlight the struggles, sacrifices and successes of women throughout our history. I look forward to the opportunity to engage with the museum if it were to become a reality.”

Wages said museum staff will remain active in trying to shepherd the bill through the Senate.

“We are meeting with Hill staff to work out any hurdles, as far as the bill moving forward goes,” Wages said. “Even though we have not had a Senate bill instituted yet, Sen. Susan Collins [(R-Maine)] has agreed to introduce the bill. We are really trying to get all female senators to join on board with this initiative.”

Located near the future site of the museum is the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a museum dedicated to the recognition of women in the arts.

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