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Placemaking Project

Public Monument

Virginia Women's Monument Commission

Virginia Women's Monument

Richmond, Virginia

Virginia's historic Capitol Square is one of the oldest enclosed public parks in the entire United States. It continues to be an architectural and artistic setting for events shaping America's individual liberties, political institutions, judicial traditions and social progress. Capitol Square not only is home to the State Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson, which has been in use since 1788, but also the Virginia Governor's Mansion, which recently celebrated two centuries as the oldest, continuously occupied governor's residence in America, as well as a host of other government buildings and public monuments serving as reminders of the power, leadership, and enduring principles upon which this nation was founded. Visitors from across the world come to Capitol Square each year to enjoy the beautiful grounds and walk in the footsteps of history. The Virginia General Assembly established the Women's Commission in 2010 (Senate Joint Resolution 11) to “determine and recommend ... an appropriate monument in Capitol Square to commemorate the contributions of the women of Virginia.”

Thought to be the first of its kind in the nation, the Monument will commemorate the collective contributions of the women of Virginia throughout the past 400 years of its storied history. Prominently placed and respectfully integrated into the historic Capitol landscape, the Monument's oval‐garden design includes elements of sculpture and landscaping that will provide visitors an interactive and educational experience. Out of 34 designs submitted from around the world, the Commission unanimously selected the winning design by StudioEIS of Brooklyn, New York and The 1717 Design Group, Inc. of Richmond, Virginia. The decision was announced in conjunction with the Library of Virginia's annual Virginia Women in History awards celebration.

Ivan Schwartz of StudioEIS, who last year installed his highly‐regarded sculpture of Thomas Jefferson in the State Capitol, spoke of the transformation and “new meaning” the Monument will add to Capitol Square. “The Monument is integrated into the landscape and will serve as an anchor within the Capitol — and the Commonwealth of Virginia — for those whose purpose may be nothing more than a spot to appreciate the architecture and beautiful landscape of the Capitol. But the Monument also will be a stopping place for those people who study women's history and those people who ponder the future disposition of women's roles in American society. It will be a place where one can honor the past and reflect on their future path.” John Crank of The 1717 Design Group elaborated. “The Monument's design is intended to be a thought‐provoking and interactive experience that complements the more traditional heroic monuments that already grace Capitol Square. We see this Monument as a metaphor for the many invisible and often unrecognized voices that have been responsible for shaping our culture, country and Commonwealth for over 400 years.” “It is our hope that this Monument will stand as a lasting reminder of the vital roles that women have played in Virginia history, and will serve to help educate and inspire future generations of Virginians,” said Mary Margaret Whipple, a former member of the Senate of Virginia and a member of the Commission.

For more information on the Women of Virginia, Commemorative Commission and the Monument, please visit womensmonumentcom.virginia.gov.