Adventure

U.S. Capitol Women Statues Tour

While there is no official U.S. Capitol Women Statues Tour, you can book a free U.S. Capitol Tour which permits you to see the famous women memorialized at the U.S. Capitol.

The U.S. Capitol now displays 14 statues of women. Twelve statues are part of the National Statuary Hall Collection (representing 12% of the 100 statues). The U.S. Congress also separately authorized two female statues to be displayed at the U.S. Capitol. 

Do not miss this free tour to see these female statues up close. (I also recommend dedicating time to tour the nearby Library of Congress and the U.S. Botanic Garden.)

New Additions

Bipartisan legislation means statues of Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg—the first women to sit on the highest court in the country—will be memorialized at the U.S. Capitol.

“Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor were trailblazers long before reaching the Supreme Court, opening doors for women at a time when so many insisted on keeping them closed.”

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar 

The statues must be placed within two years of its enactment. The preferred (“priority”) location is any spot close to the old Supreme Court chamber in the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol.

National Statutory Hall Collection

Individual states donate the statues to honor persons notable in their history. They can also replace statues.

For example, Florida removed its 100-year-old bronze sculpture of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith in September 2021. The state replaced it with a new marble statue of education pioneer and civil rights advocate Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.

U.S. Capitol Women Statues Tour

People think all the statues are situated in the National Statuary Hall. But they are spread throughout the U.S. Capitol, including the Capitol Visitor Center, the Crypt, the Hall of Columns, the Rotunda, and various areas throughout the House and Senate wings of the Capitol.

Since you will probably have a minimum 15-minute wait to start your tour of the U.S. Capitol Center, this is a great time to study the women’s statues located in the Emancipation Hall.

Authorized by U.S. Congress

There are statues of two women who are authorized by the U.S. Congress BUT not part of the National Statutory Hall Collection.

The statue of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks is located in the National Statutory Hall.

Following her death on October 24, 2005, she was accorded the rare tribute of having her remains lie in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in recognition of her contribution to advancing civil and human rights.

The bust of abolitionist Sojourner Truth is located in the Capital Visitor Center. She delivered her famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention. She chastised the women suffragist movement for the stark contrast between the treatment of white and black women.

Honor Roll

Below is the list of the 12 women who are represented in the National Statutory Hall Collection:

1 The statue of writer Willa Cather  (Nebraska) is located in the Capitol Visitor Center.

2. The statue of missionary Mother Joseph (Washington) is located in the Capitol Visitor Center.

3. The statue of Helen Keller (Alabama) is located in the Capitol Visitor Center.

4. Jeannette Rankin (Montana) became the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916. Her statue is located in the Capitol Visitor Center.

5. The statue of college professor and lecturer Maria L. Sanford (Minnesota) is located in the Capitol Visitor Center.

6. The statue of Native American activist Sarah Winnemucca is located in the Capitol Visitor Center. She wrote the autobiography, Life among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims. It was the first book written by a Native American woman.

7. The statue of suffrage pioneer Esther Hobart Morris (Wyoming) is located in the Hall of Columns. 

8. The statue of Florence R. Sabin (Colorado)—a pioneer in science and public health—is located in the Hall of Columns

9. The statue of presidential advisor and civil rights activist Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune (Florida) Is located in the National Statutory Hall.

10. The statue of record-setting aviator Amelia Earhart (Kansas) is located in the National Statutory Hall.

11. The statue of temperance movement pioneer Frances E. Willard (Illinois) is located in the National Statutory Hall. 

12. The statue of Lewis and Clark guide Sakakawea (North Dakota) is located in the Capitol Visitor Center.

Women Suffragist Monument

During your tour, you will also see the Portrait Monument to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony at the Rotunda. Adelaide Johnson sculpted it in 1920.

The National Woman’s Party presented it as a gift. It was accepted on behalf of Congress by the Joint Committee on the Library on February 10, 1921.

I noticed that the sculpture is not completed. There is a part of the marble left to be carved for the first female President of the United States.

Free U.S. Capitol Tour

While you can click on the link to read about these women’s achievements, I think it is more exciting to see their statues up close. 

Plus touring the U.S. Capitol is FREE. Typically you can’t book online same-day tickets. Book advance reservations.

Tours can also be arranged directly through the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) using an online reservation system. To make a reservation, please visit www.visitthecapitol.gov/plan-visit/book-tour-capitol

Operating Hours

The Capitol Visitor Center is open Monday-Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tours begin every 10 minutes until 3:20 p.m. All tours are led by their professional tour guides. 

The tour begins with an orientation film that discusses the Founding Fathers’ efforts to establish our representative democracy. Then the guide leads a tour through the Crypt, the Rotunda, and the National Statutory Hall. Visitors do not get to visit the Senate and House Galleries.

Currently, the U.S. Capitol offers a free tour of the grounds at 11 a.m.

Virtual U.S. Capitol Tour

If you won’t be missing Washington DC soon, you can participate in the Architect of the Capitol’s virtual tour of the U.S. Capitol. The 7-minute video will take you through the main rooms visited during the tour. You will also see a few women statues.

The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) can trace its beginnings to the laying of the U.S. Capitol cornerstone in 1793. AOC is responsible for the operations and care of more than 18.4 million square feet of facilities, 570 acres of grounds and thousands of works of art. The Capitol campus is home to 30,000 daily occupants and hosts more than 3 million visitors annually.

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  • Carly
    September 16, 2023 at 11:00 am

    Women are far too underrepresented in art, history AND politics so it’s great to see this!

    • Terri
      September 17, 2023 at 3:09 pm

      This is why I wrote this post and focused solely on the women statues. I hope it will encourage other women to visit the U.S. Capitol and advocate for future statues of prominent women to be represented.

  • Jenn
    September 16, 2023 at 8:01 pm

    In all the times I have visited Washington DC, I have never once gone to the Capitol! Didn’t know these sculptures existed there. So interesting!

    • Terri
      September 17, 2023 at 3:08 pm

      The women statues are talked about occasionally on Washington walking tours so I decided to research on my own. It was fascinating. I just wish I had found all 14 statues but you are not allowed to wander on the public tour.

  • Sharyn
    September 16, 2023 at 8:28 pm

    I’d love to see these statues and sculptures – it’s about time women got more recognition!

    • Terri
      September 17, 2023 at 3:10 pm

      I agree. It is shocking that only 12 of the 100 statues chosen by the 50 states are women.

  • Joey
    September 17, 2023 at 12:09 am

    Great post! If I ever go to Washington DC, this attraction will be on my list!

    • Terri
      September 17, 2023 at 6:15 am

      Wonderful! It is really incredible to tour the U.S. Capitol. You won’t be disappointed.

  • Alanna
    September 17, 2023 at 2:45 pm

    This looks fascinating! I was just there and skipped the Capitol entirely, but I guess I need to go back! Would love to see these in person.

    • Terri
      September 17, 2023 at 3:06 pm

      I have lived in DC for 8 years and I just got around finally to booking the public tour. It is excellent. The U.S. Capitol also offers several specialty tours.