Volume 19 • Issue 5 | June 16 - 22, 2006

Women’s Museum still has many hurdles to clear

By Janet Kwon

There are still some major steps that The Museum of Women’s History needs to take, in order to officially get the designation for the plot that’s been held for them. Although the Battery Park City Authority is holding the plot of land for the museum, the museum has yet to raise any money, which they need, in addition to further planning, in order to get a formal designation from the city.

“We’ve certainly been doing a lot of behind the scenes work, and we’ve laid a lot of groundwork,” said Lynn Rollins, the museum president. Rollins added that the museum is still in the planning stage, and they will start their fund raising campaign at the beginning of next year.

The proposed museum, which has been in the works since 1998, has gotten mixed reactions from the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1. Although members seemed to be in favor of the women’s museum as a concept, they expressed that they want another public amenity in place of it, mostly because the plot of land, referred to as “Site 2B,” has not been in use.

“This is a valuable place for the community, and we want something to happen there — something that the community can use,” said Linda Belfer, the chairperson of the B.P.C. Committee.

Belfer also brought up the idea that if the museum does not achieve an official designation by the end of Gov. Pataki’s term, which is December, then there is no telling what the next governor would do with the allotted space.

All the while, Belfer and other board members emphasized that they weren’t against the idea of the museum, but they did want a community amenity, “any community amenity” in place on 2B, which is a block north of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel near Battery Pl.

While the B.P.C. Committee may want something else in place of the museum, James Cavanaugh, president of Battery Park City Authority, said that plans for the museum are still underway.

“Right now, the site is anticipated to be for the women’s museum, because that’s what we’re planning for,” said Cavanaugh. However, he also said that there is no sure way of telling whether the designation will be completed this year.

“When they feel that they’re ready to demonstrate to us that they’re prepared to move ahead, we expect that they’ll come to us. They’re working as hard as they can to come up with funding, and they’ll continue to move ahead,” he added.

Rollins adamantly agrees. She listed several other museums such as the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Museum of World War II, and stressed that these museums, along with many others, took 13-17 years to be ready to open their doors, and added that “none of these museums faced the W.T.C. site blowing up.”

“The site is ours. There’s no place in this country that women can learn their history. Women need to know what their place in this country has been — as role models and for the children after us,” said Rollins.

While only at the planning stage, Rollins is pressing on, and said that she won’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of the museum’s opening.

“I’m very confident that we’re going to get it done, and I hope everybody is there when we open our doors. I’ll make sure everybody gets an invitation.”


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