A new director for the Museum of American Women's History

Previously director of a park in San Diego, California, Elizabeth C. Babcock has just been appointed head of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum (SAWHM), a position she will occupy as of June 3, 2024. The museum, which will not open its doors for several years, had initially chosen Nancy Yao to be its first founding director. The latter, however, resigned in July 2023 even before taking office. She is accused of unfair dismissals while she directed the Chinese American Museum in Washington.

Elizabeth C. Babcock (57) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and music education from Northwestern University (Illinois), before pursuing a thesis in anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington. His professional experiences subsequently allowed him to acquire experience in the management and administration of cultural institutions. She was first a project manager at the Chicago Academy of Sciences (1998-1999), before occupying the position of vice-president and then director of education and collections of the library of the Field Museum of Natural for eight years. History of Chicago (2002-2010). In 2010, she was named head of public engagement and dean of education at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco (one of the world’s largest natural history museums), a position she held for almost twelve years.

Starting in 2022, she becomes president and CEO of Forever Balboa Park, an association dedicated to the maintenance and development of San Diego’s Balboa Park.

By becoming director of the SAWHM, Elizabeth C. Babcock takes the reins of an institution which is only just beginning and which has neither a site nor a permanent collection. She will therefore be in charge of defining the museum’s strategy and supervising the acquisition of a collection. “We will listen, learn and work hard to ensure the material we cover represents diverse communities across the country” promises Elizabeth C. Babcock, while ensuring that the museum “will not hesitate to address controversial topics”. She also said she will prioritize support for academic research as well as the development of digital educational resources while awaiting construction of the museum.

The American Women’s History Museum is one of two new museums at the Smithsonian Institution. Approved by the American Congress in 2020, it should see the light of day in around ten years and will be organized around themes such as the contribution of women to politics, culture and science.

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