RICHMOND, Va. — Nearly 10 years in the making, the final touches are going on the Virginia Women’s Monument at Virginia’s State Capitol ahead of a dedication ceremony next week.
About half of the life-size bronze statues of history-making women were brought to Richmond Monday. Work still needs to be done to install the pieces, which is expected to be completed by Friday.
“Voices from the Garden: the Virginia Women’s Monument” has been a long time coming. State leaders broke ground on the construction site in December 2017, for the first monument of its kind in the nation.
“This monument is going to transform the narrative at Virginia’s State Capitol,” Colleen Messick, Executive Director of the Virginia Capitol Foundation, said.
The Virginia Capitol Foundation oversees the funds collected for the monument. The Virginia Women’s Monument Commission formed to come up with the project.
Ivan Schwartz, of StudioEIS in Brooklyn, New York, is executing the design and has been involved for about eight years. As he watches the piece finally come together, Schwartz says this is an important time.
“We’re filling a huge void,” Schwartz said. “If you think about Central Park in New York there’s a statue of Mother Goose and Alice in Wonderland, those are the only statues of women. It’s hugely important and I think it’s a very historic moment for the country.”
Some of the statues include Pamunkey Chief Cockacoeske and educational leader Virginia Randolph. The diversity and variety of the achievements acknowledged on the monument, Messick says, was deeply considered.
“The commission has been thoughtful to select women across different time periods, geographically across the state as well as just varied contributions,” she added.
The monument also has room to grow. More than 200 women’s name line a “Wall of Honor,” which aims to tell the whole story of women’s contributions over the past 400 years of Virginia’s history. There is also space to add more names in the future.
More than $3.7 million has been raised through donations. Each statue costs about $200,000. About $125,000 still needs to be raised to complete the project. The last statues have yet to be cast in bronze.
A smaller dedication ceremony will be held next year once the final statues have been paid for and created.
The dedication ceremony is next Monday, Oct. 14, at 11 a.m. and is open to the public. Street parking will be free around the Capitol because of the Columbus Day Holiday.
To read the biographies of all of the women being recognized in “The Voices from the Garden: The Virginia Women’s Monument,” click here.