A group of senators on Monday called on the Smithsonian Institution to commit to building the upcoming National Museum of the American Latino and Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC
In a letter to Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch, the bipartisan group of senators wrote that the two museums should be “as close to or as close to the National Mall as possible.”
Both museum projects were approved by Congress in 2020, and the Smithsonian appointed the Latino Museum’s Board of Trustees in June and the Museum of Women’s History Advisory Board in August.
The museums’ committees are responsible for selecting the location – Bunch is an ex officio member of both committees.
Space in the National Mall is tight – the latest major construction in the capital’s outstanding national park is the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was completed in 2016.
The movement to create the two new museums has been pushing for decades to get official approval and a pledge of funding – received in 2020 – and spots on the National Mall, which is visited by 25 million people each year.
Proponents of the museum projects argue that other locations would mean lower status for the museums compared to the Smithsonian’s existing venues.
“The addition of the two new museums in the Mall will further the Smithsonian’s mission by showcasing and highlighting the untold and overlooked contributions of women and Latinos to our nation,” the Senators wrote.
“It is fitting that these two museums are prominently placed as it helps more visitors enjoy and learn from them,” they added.
Various specific locations were discussed for the museums, including the existing Arts and Industries Building, which has a prime location in the mall but is less square feet than most modern museum projects.
There has been some debate about exactly which country the National Mall covers, but the Senate letter defined the area as “the two mile park from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, bounded north and south by Constitution and Independence Avenues “.
That definition would exclude the Upper and Lower Senate parks, which were also viewed as potential museum locations, from contestation, although some Capitol officials refused to give up the area, which includes Senate parking spaces.
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