The Women's Museum of California is one of only six 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.
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.
- Hosted the Feminist Art Space with contributions of art, poetry and music
- Partnered with San Diego Indie Music Festival in North Park. Created the Women's History Month Stage at Claire de Lune for the entire month of March with visual displays.
- Hosted the International Women's Day Film Festival in conjunction with the Latino Film Festival.
- Held the 6th Annual Women's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner at UCSD Price Center Ballroom
- 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 - Suffrage Day with a dedication to Kate Sessions followed by a march across the Laurel Street Bridge, free ice cream and brownies and a screening of the film "Iron Jawed Angels" in the Prado.
- Hosted the Women's Caucus of Art Juried Exhibition for the month of October.
- Offered our 3rd Annual Dia de los Muertos celebration with community altar building and lecture.
- Hosted GRRRRRLPower, a San Diego Art Collective, in an art show for the month of November.
- Awarded $1500 from the County Board of Supervisors to take our traveling exhibit, "Women Who Dare" to South Bay schools and libraries.
- Received a 3+ score and funding for the 4th year from the City Commission for Arts and Culture.
- Hosted the February meeting for the National Latina organization MANA de San Diego
- In partnership with San Diego City College, the WHMEC presented a film screening of Sisters of '77 with original delegates from the first National Women's Conference in Houston, TX.
- Hosted the 5th annual San Diego County Women's Hall of Fame ceremony with, for the first time, a sit-down catered dinner for over 350 guests at the UCSD Price Center Ballroom.
- Nationally-renowned author and psychological research Vikki Stark presents a workshop on sister relationships at the WHMEC in March 2006.
- The annual Women's History Art Initiative (formerly the Youth Art Project) hosts its annual reception at the WHMEC on April 1, 2006.
- Two cross-cultural workshops uniting women with their ancestors are presented in May 2006 by Prof. Starla Lewis, Chair of Black Studies at Mesa College, and Alyce Smith-Cooper, ancestral storyteller and actor.
- Received a 3+ and funding from City Commission for Arts & Culture.
- Annual Women's Equality Day Celebration on August 26, 2006 featured a fundraiser for the museum along with a raffle drawing, film screening of the suffrage film Iron Jawed Angels and several partner organizations including the Foundation for Women and the League of Women Voters.
- In October 2006, local artist collective Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go presented a temporary exhibit on the history of 'zines (self-published magazines) and two zine-making workshops free to the public, including a youth workshops with the Girl Scouts of San Diego-Imperial County.
- On October 29, 2006, the WHMEC held the 2nd annual Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration with community altar building, music and poetry readings by young women of Hermanitas, a Latina mentorship program of MANA de San Diego.
- Permanent Executive Director brought on staff
- Created a Professional Volunteer Staff of Academics from local universities include positions of Curator, Archivist, Historian, Librarian, Exhibits Designer, Volunteer Coordinator, IT Director, and Oral Historian.
- In March, a delegation of Afghani women leaders visits with members of the San Diego County Commission on Women and other community leaders at the WHMEC for a workshop; the women donate a burka to the museum's permanent collection.
- County Supervisor Pamela Slater-Price awards the WHMEC $5,000 to bring "Women Who Dare: Shaping the Americas" to North County.
- The Exhibit "Ophelia Rising", A Dialogue with women of the past, women of today, woman with herself: an Installation by Andrea Singer" opens which analyzes historical undergarments since the 18th century.
- Awarded $2000 from the County Board of Supervisors to complete archival shelving for our collection
- 4th Annual Women's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony held at UCSD during Women's History Month
- Women's History Art Initiative program partners with Women's Hall of Fame to educate school-age children on women's history.
- Film screening of Sisters of '77, a documentary on the first National Women's Conference in Houston, in honor of International Women's Day (March 8, 2005) Original delegates were in attendance for a cross-cultural/cross-generational dialogue and discussion.
- The WHMEC served as the site for Assemblywoman Lori Saldana's Woman of the Year event honoring longtime activist and community leader, Judy Foreman, owner of the Big Kitchen Café.
- In conjunction with the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women, the WHMEC held an event to announce the Beijing+10 report.
- The Youth Art Project Committee, a critical component of the Women's Hall of Fame, hosted an opening reception on April 15, 2005 for all the friends and family of the student participants in the project.
- Received a score of 3 and funding from the City Commission for Arts & Culture
- Two opening receptions for our new permanent exhibit All Our Grandmothers, documenting the lives of African American and Native American women living in San Diego at the turn of the century.
- In conjunction with the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women and the Women's Intercultural Network, the WHMEC hosted Afghani women leaders in a presentation on June 16 about emerging activism in Afghanistan resulting in the donation of a Burka for our museum. In August we hosted 2 women leaders from Uganda.
- In August, a visual arts fundraiser collaborating with over 38 artists of the community for a show entitled Women on Top.
- In October, a series of cultural events celebrating "Day of the Dead" in partnership with Back from Tomboctou, a shop featuring Mexican and world imports, workshops and other classes.
- WHMEC receives its first of two San Diego Commission on Arts and Culture Grants to continue the "Women Who Dare" exhibit into North and East Counties.
- 3rd Annual Women's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony held at UCSD.
- In March, a delegation of African women leaders visits with members of the San Diego County Commission on Women and other community leaders at the WHMEC for a workshop and Circle of Conversations.
- County Supervisor Pamela Slater-Price awards the WHMEC $5,000 to bring "Women Who Dare: Shaping the Americas" to North County.
- The Exhibit "Ophelia Rising, A Dialogue with women of the past, women of today, woman with herself: an Installation by Andrea Singer" opens which analyzes historical undergarments since the 18th century.
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
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.
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 passionate about sharing women's history and accomplishments with others.
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.
Gift Shop Manager
Cece manages our beautiful gift shop, which gives local artists a platform to sell their pieces, as well as bring in revenue for the Museum. Her warm smile and dedication keep us going!
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 Smith
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.
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.
President of the Cohen Policy Group, Hannah recent served as the consultant for Sustainable San Diego where she formed the collaborative of 40 agencies to address the implementation of Sustainable Communities Strategy. Her area of expertise is in affordable housing and homelessness policy.
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.
Retired after 40 years as a commercial property manager, Linda most recently spent 12 years with Jone Lang LaSalle dedicated to managing Bank of Amerca commercial branches in SD. Always interested in giving back to the community, Linda recently joined the WMC Board.
Shawn has 12 years of military experience coupled with relationships with executive, political, and policy leaders spanning the private, public, and NGO-sectors at federal, state, and local levels.
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.
Divya Kakaiya, Ph.D., M.S.
Divya Kakaiya Psychologist, Neuroscientist, School Consultant, CEO of Healthy Within Brain Health and Wellness Center. Member San Diego Rotary. Working with families and teens, she empowers healthy communities.
Huma Ahmed-Ghosh, Ph.D.
Huma Ahmed-Ghosh is Professor in the Department of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University. Ahmed-Ghosh has published extensively on women in Afghanistan, Muslim women in India and in the US diaspora, and gendered violence and conflict with a focus on Afghanistan.
Stefanie Benvenuto is the Policy Manager at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce where she heads the Chamber’s advocacy and political efforts on behalf of the healthcare, land use, infrastructure.
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.
Public Relations Consultant
Stacey established Your Own Girl Friday in 2005, which handles Public Relations, Marketing and Business matters for the individual and company.
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.