The Smithsonian Museum has been working towards opening the National Museum of the American Latino dedicated to Latine history and the community’s contributions to the United States. As the project continues to move towards reality, a permanent Latine history exhibit is opening on June 18 to bring our stories to the visitors of the nation’s capital.
The Molina Family Latino Gallery is opening with the ”¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States” exhibit. The exhibit looks at the history of the Latine community in the U.S., from pre-colonial indigenous freedom fighter Toypurina to singer Celia Cruz to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Visitors of the gallery will be able to tour the gallery with descriptions in English and Spanish to give the full Latine community access to the knowledge held in the exhibit. The exhibit is broken into four themes: “Colonial Legacies,” “War and U.S. Expansion,” “Immigration Stories,” and “Shaping the Nation.”
The gallery became a reality thanks to a $10 million donation from the Molina Family Foundation. The foundation is named after Dr. C. David Molina and his wife Mary who established a clinic in Long Beach, California in the 1980s aimed at helping low-income Latinos access healthcare.
“This is phenomenal — my father’s stethoscope (is in the exhibit); to think that it’s now part of the Smithsonian, it makes me tear up,” John Molina said during a press preview on June 15, according to NBC News. “I am humbled to be a part of this, as I know the rest of my siblings are. When you experience (the exhibit), it’s at the forefront of any display you would want to see.”
Congress unanimously approved the National Museum of the American Latino in December 2020. It’s expected to be built in 10 to 12 years. It will be an addition to the Smithsonian’s expansive network of museums that highlight all of the contributions from Americans of all walks of life.