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Women's Museum of California

Preserving the Past, Inspiring the Future

About Us

The Women's Museum of California is one of only three stand alone museums of women's history in the country. Founded in 1983 as the Women's History Reclamation Project, we are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization headed by a Volunteer Board of Directors and an Advisory Council of community members.

The Women's Museum of California currently has open seats on the Board of Directors. To apply, CLICK HERE

About Us

Founder, Mary Maschal

From 1983 until 1997, Mary Mashcal assembled an extensive collection of memorabilia and aritifacts, filling virtually every room of her Golden Hill home with historic documents, banners, posters, and books. Mary and others also reached out into the community, offering lectures on women's history to school children, professional and social organizations, and community groups. In 1995, at the urging of family and friends, Mary opened her home to the public and held exhibitions of her vast collection. The enthusiasm over Mary's collection, generated by the Open House, and the need in San Diego for a museum dedicated solely to women and their stories brought forth the Women's History Reclamation Project.


In 1997, the WHRP moved from Mary's home into the nearby ART UNION Building and opened to the public on a regular basis . In December of 2003 the WHRP changed its name to the Women's History Museum and Educational Center or WHM.

Since 1997 the Women's Museum of California evolved into a full-fledged women's history museum and valuable community educational resource. With the help of many volunteers and a dedicated staff, the WMC features a variety of changing exhibits and displays on women's history, sponsors workshop and lecture series, develops and implements educational and cultural events, including art shows, live performances and presentations; maintains a library, archive & collections; and provides speakers for the community through its Speakers' Bureau. The WMC is a co-founder and sponsor of the San Diego County Women's Hall of Fame. We collaborate with dozens of women's and girl's organizations and agencies throughout San Diego.

In 2011, we changed our name to the Women’s Museum of California with the tag line “preserving the past…inspiring the future”. We are now located at the NTC at Liberty Station in Point Loma.


  • The Women’s Museum of California has a growing Speakers' Bureau that sends speakers around San Diego. These speakers include: Ashley Gardner, Dr. Gloria Harris, Karen Vigneault, Mollie Solorzano, Leanne Taylor, Hannah Cohen, Anne Hoiberg, Victoria Jones, Sue Gonda, Midge Neff Le Clair
  • Author Series with Margaret Bhola, Women I want to Grow Old With
  • Poetry Workshop sessions weekly and monthly with Ms. Tanya Raz & Stacey Dyson
  • Groups that the WMC speaks to include; Soroptomists of La Mesa, South Regional Military Maintenance Center, Father Joe’s Village, 32nd Naval Station, Insight-Everyday Thinkers, Downtown Lyon’s Club, Poway AAUW, MANA, White Sands Retirement, Altrusa International of San Diego, La Jolla Soroptomist, P.E.O. Coronado, Hanali’s Tea House, Alpine Historical Society, The Big Kitchen, L.I.F.E. at Mira Costa College, Navy Diversity Command, Golden Hill Farmer’s Market, Women’s Empowerment Group in Poway, SDSU Sex, Power & Politics Class, Alpine Women’s Club, SDSU Women’s Studies Students, Scripps Ranch Women’s Club, National City Train Depot Museum, KPBS & Daughter of Union Veteran’s of Civil War.
  • City Hall reception and display of our travelling exhibit, A Moral Earthquake, to celebrate California Centennial Suffrage with City Officials
  • California Centennial Suffrage Parade in Balboa Park
  • We took our Vintage clothing and created a mini-Museum at the Women’s Head to Toe Expo at the Del Mar Fairgrounds
  • Older Women’s League has monthly meetings at the Museum
  • Hanging of Exquisite Corpses Display at the WMC
  • Celebrating Children’s History Education at the Fall Back Festival with fun bonnet making and historical women picture coloring in the Gaslamp Quarter
  • Gator by the Bay Zydego Festival at Spanish Landing
  • Hosted the 4th Annual Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Festival in Spanish Village Art Center
  • Tours are ongoing weekly as more organizations request available dates. Some organizations include; Red Hat Society, Department of Labor, Girl Scouts, SURFPAC, Jr. League, AAUW, Delta Kappa Gamma, Brandeis University Women’s Club, Vintage Roses, Waves, Heart Ignited, Girls Give Back, Lyon’s Club, La Vida Real, Active Girl Friends
  • United Nations Equity Council has a program for International Women’s Day at the WMC
  • Macy’s Day Shopping Fundraiser Participant
  • Participated in Dia De Los Museos in Old Town
  • In Celebration of African American Heritage Month, Brenda Gipson presents her art, Truth of Sojourner
  • 10th Annual San Diego County Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Dinner at the San Diego State University Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. The four Co hosts include; The Women’s Museum of California, San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women, SDSU Women’s Studies Department and UCSD Women’s Center.
  • Mini Museum set up at Indie Fest at Liberty Station
  • Vintage Clothing Shows are being taken around San Diego to different locations, including: Windemere Club House for the D.A.R., Congress of History Conference in Balboa Park, South Bay Women’s Connection, AAUW Rancho Bernardo at the Community Center Country Club, Delta Kappa Gamma Women Educators, Carlsbad Newcomers, La Jolla Newcomers, North County Adult Center, Escondido Women’s Club, Fulton Elementary School, Retired Teachers Association, P.E.O.- Vista Valley Country Club.
  • Our travelling exhibits, Women Who Dare and A Moral Earthquake, are being requested and installed in different locations, including: Care Fusion, F.I.D.M., National Council of NeuroWomen, Malcolm X Library, San Diego Public Library


  • Welcomed members of the American Historical Association to the museum.
  • Hosted an opening reception to view the January exhibit Ventures in Art and a celebration of the works of Ladies Who Paint.
  • Hosted an Open Mic Night, featuring music, poetry, and storytelling at the museum.
  • Celebrated International Women's Day with an evening of cross-generational conversation and tales of women from around the world.
  • Partnered with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Choir of San Diego in an event called Celebrating Our Sisters' Strength which celebrated women's accomplishments around the globe.
  • Held a 2nd Business of Fashion, Finance & Philanthropy reception at Bloomingdales.
  • Welcomed actress, author and motivational speaker Dorothy Leeds for Good Lessons from Bad Women.
  • Held the 9th Annual Women's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner at UCSD Price Center Ballroom.
  • Hosted the 3rd Annual Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Festival in Spanish Village Art Center
  • Installed a new exhibit in Old Town State Historic Park in the Machado y Silvas Adobe
  • The Museum’s Travelling exhibit, Women Who Dare was sent out to San Ysidro Middle School, Mar Vista Middle School, Sweetwater High School and Parkway Middle School
  • Participated with a Women’s History Stage at the Indie Fest
  • Many women went out to speak in the community for us, including Gracia Molina De Pick, Anne Hoiberg, Sue Gonda, Karen Vigneault, Evie Kosower & Ashley Gardner
  • We took our Vintage clothing and created a mini-Museum at the Women’s Head to Toe Expo at the Del Mar Fairgrounds
  • Historical Reenactment for Ladies Day in Old Town
  • Macy’s Community Shopping Day
  • Gator by the Bay Zydego Festival at Spanish Landing
  • Celebrating Children’s History Education at the Fall Back Festival with fun bonnet making and historical women picture coloring in the Gaslamp Quarter
  • History of Heritage student work on display at High Tech High School in Point Loma
  • Salute to Suffrage at City Hall with the League of Women Voters
  • Monthly meetings of the Women’s Journal Writing Group at the Museum
  • The Museum took their Vintage Clothing Shows on the road and presented at many different locations in San Diego, including; Del Mar Fairgrounds, La Jolla Playhouse, AAUW Del Mar Golf Club, Bloomingdales
  • Volunteer appreciation celebration downtown
  • Tours of the museum weekly and monthly with different organizations, including: High School Students, CRASH Students, Navy Diversity Group and other women’s organizations


  • Showing of original theatre project "He said.She said", presented in two parts.
  • Hosted Grace Paley Reconstructed: a discussion of the stories of Grace Paley, creator of the character "Faith" in "Acts of Faith."
  • Celebration of Black History Month with a series of story-tellers and the dedication of the Women's History Stage at Claire de Lune coffee lounge.
  • Celebration of International Women's Day with a series of workshops, interviews, and documentaries honoring women's social, economic, and political achievements worldwide.
  • Hosted a private reception and spring fashion presentation called Fashion, Finance, and Philanthropy.
  • Performance of Grace Paley's work "Acts of Faith".
  • Continued the Author Series with readings and discussion of how to write a memoir.
  • Participated in the 5th Annual San Diego Indie Music Festival.
  • Held the 8th Annual Women's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner at UCSD Price Center Ballroom.
  • Hosted an artist demonstration by Susan E. Roden during the April duration of her exhibit Romance with Simplicity.
  • Presented Mary and Myra: a staged reading of the work of Catherine Filloux.
  • In May, exhibited a photo essay depicting Indonesian Orphans, entitled "Framed with Hope"
  • Showing of documentary film "Dear Miss Breed" and the impact on our community understanding.
  • Hosted 2nd annual Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Festival.
  • Celebrated Women's Equality Day with the second annual parade and suffrage ball.
  • Hosted a Sweetwater Harley-Davidson "Garage Party" to introduce the fun of riding and the basics of motorcycling for women.
  • Continued the Author Series with "Secret Lovers, Affairs Happen. How to Cope" by Luann Linquist, Ph.D.
  • Installation of exhibit "Oils Along the Way", a one woman show by Judy Burnett
  • Reception for the Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company's production of "9 Parts of Desire"
  • Attended San Diego Historical Society's lecture What Women do for Fashion, by Dr. Susan Gonda.
  • Exhibition of sculpture by artist Mary Buckman.
  • Offered our 5th Annual Dia de los Muertos celebration with community altar building and lecture.
  • Celebrated Native American Heritage Day at Golden Hill Park with folktale, heritage, and personal stories focusing on the lives of Native Women.
  • Hosted a salon talk on "Tensions in the Journey: From Child to Crone".
  • Installation of exhibit "The Gift of Art" by Susie Reneau & friends.


  • Hosted Mary Maschal Portrait Unveiling and Reception to honor founder Mary Maschal with a portrait painted by Susan E. Roden.
  • In celebration of Black History Month, held a wine and cheese reception and attendance to the opening weekend of "Permanent Collection" at Mo'olelo Theatre Company.
  • Kicked off Women's History Month with special drinks, food, and entertainment at Clair de Lune Coffee Shop.
  • Hosted an intimate evening with entertainer and activist Holly Near.
  • Celebrated International Women's Day with lecture, food, and networking at the museum.
  • Welcomed vocalist Bonnie Barnes and pianist Richard Couples at the San Diego women's club for their performance of the music of lyricist Dorothy Fields.
  • Hosted the event The Voices of Women to celebrate women's expression of creativity and voice.
  • Partnered with 4th annual San Diego Indie Music Festival with the Women's History Stage at Claire de Lune.
  • Held the 7th Annual Women's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner at UCSD Price Center Ballroom.
  • Set up an exhibit in the museum to honor artist Muriel Fisher.
  • Hosted the Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Festival at the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park.
  • Held an opening reception for the completion of phase 11 of the permanent exhibit All Our Grandmothers.
  • Partnered with 8 other women's organizations (AAUW, Planned Parenthood, NOW, YWCA, Girl Scouts, United Nations Women's Equity Council, SDSU Women's Studies Department and UCSD's Women's Center) to celebrate Women's Equality Day with a parade and suffrage ball.
  • Showing of the San Diego Repertory Theater's play "The Good Body" with author Louise Bernikov, presenter of "The Shoulders We Stand On: Women as Agents of Change" as guest speaker.
  • Held an opening reception for Out of the Mouths of Babes: Women's Words and Witicisms, a collection of serigraphs and quotations by Susie Reneau.
  • Held a musical performance and lecture presentation by local author Dr. Anne Gray celebrating The World of Women in Classical Music.
  • Hosted an exhibition presented by The Women's Caucus for Art entitled "Women's Mystical Power and Magic".
  • Offered our 4th Annual Dia de los Muertos celebration with community altar building and lecture.
  • Participated in the Head to Toe Expo at Del Mar Fairgrounds, gave free passes for the viewing of presentation by Dr. Gonda.
  • Put on an artistic experience workshop, led by Helen Redman, called "Aging With Attitude".
  • Celebrated November as National American Indian Heritage Month with food, music, storytelling, and more.
  • Held an opening reception for Dorothy Annette's Celebration of Life, including multi-media art displays, lectures, and an encounter with the artist.


Our mission is to educate and inspire current and future generations about the experiences and contributions of women by collecting, preserving, and interpreting the evidence of that experience.

... Respecting and honoring all women and their experiences.
... Respecting all individuals’ beliefs, cultures and ideas.
... Inviting and encouraging participation and open dialogue from women, men and children.
... Integrity of our collection and in our presentation of women’s history.
... Diversity, cultural competence, cultural democracy and inclusion in our organizational structure.
... An organizational environment that builds and fosters open, honest, considerate communication and a spirit of cooperative problem solving, consensus and community.
... Planning, responsible decision-making, well-designed systems Accountability, and fiscal responsibility.
... Enthusiasm, positive attitude, creativity, recognition, humor, commitment, support, passion, acceptance.
... Human life and human rights.

Diane Peabody Straw

Executive Director

After serving on the Museum Board for a year, Diane was the Museum's Director of Development. Her experience includes fundraising, event planning, marketing, campaigning, and volunteer management. 

Melissa Jones

Director of Marketing

Melissa has a BA in History and a masters in International Relations. She manages all aspects of the Museum's social outreach and has a background in digital organizing. She is passionate about sharing women's history and accomplishments with others.

Julia Friedman

Library, Archive & Museum Collections Manager

Julia received her BA in History from California State University San Marcos. She joined us as an intern, focusing on digitizing our collection of San Diego NOW audio tapes. She now is managing our collection, library, and archives. 

Tracey Balsdon

Office Manager, Newsletter Editor

Tracey holds a BA in Psychology from the University of San Diego. She maintains our gift shop and office inventory, and edits the newly redesigned museum newsletter, In Our Own Voice. She has experience in hospitality, fundraising, and event planning. 

Virginia Salisbury Shapland

Volunteer and Events Director

Virginia holds a BA in Anthropology from Bryn Mawr College and recently completed an MA in Applied Anthroplogy. Her previous work focused on gender and identity politics. She currently manages our volunteers and coordinates Museum events in addition to grant acquisition and oversight.

Duane McGregor

Artistic Director

Background in Architecture, Graphic and Textile Design. Duane creates all the graphics for exhibits, as well as helps with installation, lending her impressive artistic eye to each exhibit. 

Amy Spear


Amy Spear has broad experience in public affairs, government relations and strategic communications. She serves as Manager of Public Affairs at Southwest Strategies. Amy has served on the Board for many years and has been an integral part of the fundraising efforts. 

Kim M. Goodwin, MD, FACOG


Kim is a busy physician and co-owner of her practice, West Coast OB/GYN, Inc.  Having been in practice in San Diego for 17 years, she is devoted to delivering quality health care to the women of San Diego. 

Erica Iwaszkiewicz


A Certified Public Accountant who currently works for ARS National Services. She is also an active volunteer for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. 

Anne Hoiberg

Board Member

A writer, speaker and research psychologist, Anne has written and presented extensively on women's health, women in the military, domestic violence, alcohol abuse, health promotion, workman's compensation cost containment, stress related disease and role of military in society.

Susannah Rose Stokes

A former US Marine, Susannah currently works for Facebook where she manages Communication and Culture initiatives for the Global Data Center team and leads Partnerships for the Facebook Veterans and Allies Resource Group. 

Melanie Cohn

As Biocom’s Director of Regional Policy and Government Affairs, Melanie is responsible for managing and implementing regional policy agendas in San Diego, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a BA in Political Science from UCSD.

Andréa da Rosa

Andrea is involved in the "family" business, Balboa Travel, whose culture reflects this ethos, as a full-service travel agency, rated within the top 1% nationwide. She currently works as the company's Director Marketing Communications. 

Marshawn Williams

Marshawn is a Naval veteran and current IT Systems Defense Contractor. He is currently an MBA Candidate at the Rady School of Management.  He was also involved in the mystartupxx inucbator program, that focuses on assisting startups that have at least one woman co-founder.

Julia Altieri

Julia has worked for nonprofit organizations her entire career and has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the Pratt Institute. As a Development Specialist at San Diego Zoo Global, she manages estate administration and the WorldWild Tours travel program.

Connie A. Broussard

Connie is an experienced trial lawyer, educator and the principal lawyer at Broussard Law. Broussard is active in her community and currently serves on the California State Bar Council on Access and Fairness, and is on the board of the California Association of Black Lawyers.

Bob Alden

Pictured with Wife Carol Dentz-Alden

Bob is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and served in the Navy for 20 years. He currently works for L-3 Communications, running computer training systems for the Navy in Point Loma. He has been one of the Museum's most loyal supporters. 

Stacey Blanchet

Public Relations Consultant

Stacey established Your Own Girl Friday in 2005, which handles Public Relations, Marketing and Business matters for the individual and company.

Marley Healy

Historical Textile Consultant

Marley Healy is a fashion and costume curator working as a freelance consultant in San Diego. She reviews fashion-based exhibitions along the West Coast and is working on a long-term curatorial research project around dress-based collections in Southern California.