Bashka Paeff with Laddie Boy
About the image
Unidentified photographer, Archives of American Art

Her story is our story.

The stories we tell will deepen our understanding of women’s contributions to America and the world, showing how far women have advanced and how we as a country value equality and the contributions of all our citizens. We will inspire new leaders to raise their hands and follow these role models, who have made a difference in the life of our nation.

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America, we are designing exhibitions, developing programs, hiring curators and expanding the national collection to better portray how women have shaped this country.

A group of African American women posed on a staircase
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative?

The American Women’s History Initiative will uncover and highlight the stories of women, their way of life and their achievements past and present. The program will increase our knowledge and appreciation of women’s contributions to art, history, science, business and culture. 

The Smithsonian is working closely with members of the former American Women's History Museum Congressional Commission, who submitted a report to Congress in 2016.

How will the initiative chronicle women’s experiences?

The American Women’s History Initiative will allow the Smithsonian to hire curatorial and educational staff with expertise in women’s history to mount new exhibitions; develop public programs such as lectures, film series and curator talks; publish books; and enhance educational offerings reaching our global digital and in-person audience of millions. The initiative also will fund new research and acquisitions to our national collection and offer paid internships to train the next generation of scholars.

A major exhibition at the National Museum of American History will explore the roles of women in America, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States. A second significant exhibition, at the National Portrait Gallery, will draw on portraits and photographs to portray how women in the United States fought for better political representation, and particularly the right to vote, through the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

How is the initiative being funded?

The American Women’s History Initiative is funded through a public-private partnership with Congress, the American people and private donors, corporations and foundations.

Why the Smithsonian?

For more than 170 years, the Smithsonian has been recognized around the world for its scholarship and collections, which are made up of our nation’s treasures and artifacts held in trust for the American people. Millions of visitors from all walks of life are drawn to our museums, free and open 364 days a year. They come to see themselves reflected in America’s diverse story and to understand their place in the world.

The curators and educators we hire through the initiative will fill the gaps in our national narrative. 

Interested in making a gift?

Contact Karri Brady,