New name, big plans for Women’s History Museum in 2011
By Kelley Carlson
A local women’s museum has started the new year with the announcement of some significant changes, including a different name and a possible relocation. The Women’s History Museum and Educational Center, located in the Golden Hill area of San Diego, will now be known as The Women’s Museum of California.
“As one of only five women’s history museums in the country, we felt it was fitting to claim the right to be the Women’s Museum of California,” said director Ashley Gardner in a news release. “Our tag line ‘preserving the past, inspiring the future’ encompasses our long-term mission to educate current and future generations about the experiences and contributions of women.”
Gardner said in an interview that the museum has mainly had a local focus, with the Hall of Fame “very local.”
“The name change gives us an opportunity to give more widespread recognition,” she said.
For example, Gardner said, women’s suffrage was a national movement, with California women receiving the right to vote in 1911. Nationwide, women were enfranchised with the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment, which eliminated voter discrimination by gender. The museum is planning a centennial exhibit this year to recognize the landmark decision by the Golden State.
Yet despite a broader focus, the museum will always maintain a local theme, Gardner said.
Along with the name change and a new logo, the museum has made a letter of intent to move to NTC Promenade at the former Naval Training Center in Point Loma.
The museum cited increased activity, interest and donations as the reason for the possible move in a news release.
“There are art galleries, museums, shops … good parking and lovely restaurants,” Gardner said in the interview. “It’s becoming more of a destination.”
She said the museum’s moving date is undecided at this time, due to financial factors and the need to sign a lease. But Gardner added that it’s possible the relocation could occur by the end of 2011.
The museum has been in the Art Union Building at 2323 Broadway, Suite 107, in San Diego since 1996. Founded in 1983 by Mary B. Maschal as the Women’s History Reclamation Project, it has undergone a couple of name and location changes over the years. It has a variety of changing exhibits and displays on women’s history, provides speakers for the community, sponsors a monthly membership lecture series, and maintains a library and research archive.
Several major events have been planned for 2011.
During February, which is Black History Month, the museum will hold an exhibition titled “Celebrating Giants: The Truth of Sojourner,” that focuses on the life and work of Sojourner Truth and the African-American Women’s Suffrage Movement. Truth was perhaps best known for a speech given at the Ohio Woman’s Rights Convention in Akron in 1854 in which she used the phrase, “Ain’t I a woman?”
The multilayered, multiartist exhibition opens from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 4.
In March, which is Women’s History Month, the museum will sponsor the 10th annual San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. This year’s inductees are Margaret “Midge” Costanza, the first woman to be appointed as assistant to the president of the U.S. (Jimmy Carter); Judy Forman, owner and operator of Big Kitchen Café; Rita Sanchez, professor emeritus at San Diego Mesa College; Clara Harris, who speaks out against discrimination in educational institutions; and La Jolla resident Martha W. Longenecker, founder of the San Diego Mingei International Museum.
There will also be plenty to do this summer. The museum’s wine, cheese and chocolate festival is slated for June. And in August, there will be a suffrage parade and suffrage ball, in which participants dress in period costumes.
“It’s an immersive experience,” Gardner said.
For more information about the museum and upcoming events, go to www.whmec.org/
If you go
The Women’s Museum of California is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday at 2323 Broadway, Suite 107, in San Diego. Admission is free. Exhibits include “All Our Grandmothers,” “Women’s Suffrage,” the Muriel Fisher Doll Collection and the Midge Neff-LeClair Antique Clothing Collection. For more details, call (619) 233-7963.
San Diego County Hall of Fame Inductees
Alice Barnes, activist
Margaret Burbidge, astronomer
Bonnie Dumanis, district attorney
Joan Embrey, Zoological Society of San Diego spokeswoman
Monique Henderson, Olympic gold medalist
Lucy Killea, former elected official
Joan Kroc, philanthropist/peace activist
Mary Maschal, co-founder of the Women’s History Reclamation Project
Judith K. Munk, artist/sculptor
Sally Ride, astronaut
Ellen Browning Scripps, philanthropist/activist
Kate Sessions, horticultural expert
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