Hillary Rodham Clinton recalled Saturday the heated debates that ensued when the idea for an art museum devoted to women first arose 10 years ago.
“There were some who argued it was not necessary, that instead there should be a natural evolution … of appreciation for women’s art,” the first lady said as she dedicated a new wing Saturday. “This museum proves all of the doubters wrong.”
Clinton joined patrons and founders to mark the 10th anniversary of the National Museum of Women in the Arts by opening the addition. Saluted by an honor guard of Girl Scouts, Clinton pledged allegiance to the flag and also pledged her support for the role of arts in America.
“The arts are not a luxury,” Clinton told the crowd. “They are an integral part of our lives as individuals and as a nation.”
The new $1 million wing, named after philanthropist Elisabeth A. Kasser, was a gift from her children to recognize their mother’s patronage of the arts.
Before the ceremony, Clinton toured the works displayed in the wing, including an exhibit of textiles and pottery by American Indian women.
Clinton, pointing to the Girl Scouts attending the opening, stressed the importance of educating young people about the arts.
“It is for all these young women and girls that we are here today,” she said.
The museum was the brainstorm of Wilhelmina Holladay, who in the 1960s avidly began collecting art by under-represented groups such as women.
Clinton described a visit to the Holladay’s house in the 1980s when it was “crammed with art.” Holladay told her she planned to find a home for the works and so began her quest to build the museum. Clinton became a charter member.
“I can only hope the next ten years will be as productive as the last ten have been,” Holladay said.