Here’s What We Know About the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino

Lead Photo: Photo by JGI/Tom Grill
Photo by JGI/Tom Grill
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The Smithsonian Latino Center, a section of the Smithsonian Institute that preserves our communities history and culture, is keeping busy these days.

Currently, director Eduardo Diaz and his staff are working on the first exhibition for their new space, the Molina Family Latino Gallery. The new 4,500-square-foot gallery, which opens in May 2022, will welcome guests with the exhibit “¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States.”

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the exhibit will feature more than 200 artifacts, including a raft used by Cuban refugees to escape their communist country; a dress worn by singer Celia Cruz; and a slave registration form from Puerto Rico. Also on exhibit will be commissioned illustrations from people like indigenous freedom fighter Toypurina, muralist Judy Baca, educator Antonia Pantoja, and drag queen Julio Sarria.

“A lot of the conversation was originally on how we could best use this space,” Emily Key, the center’s director of education, told Smithsonian Magazine. “It’s a limited amount of square footage; real estate is so much of a luxury at the Institution.”

Along with the new exhibition space, the Center is also in the initial planning stages of creating the National Museum of the American Latino. So far, the Center has announced the museum’s first Board of Trustees, which includes high-profile supporters like Grammy Award winner Emilio Estefan, actress/director/producer Eva Longoria, actress/producer Sofía Vergara, and journalist Soledad O’Brien.

A deadline to decide the museum’s location is December 2022. Then, fundraising will begin. The U.S. government is ponying up half the cost, so the other half will have to come from donors. For context, it took $270 million to build the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.