The Smithsonian Latino Center ensures that the contributions of the Latino community are represented and celebrated throughout the Smithsonian and in the upcoming Molina Family Latino Gallery, which will be housed in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
The center achieves its mission by focusing on people, programs and places:
- People: Leadership and professional development programs for Latino youth, emerging scholars and museum professionals, and support of Latino content-experts around the Smithsonian.
- Programs: Scholarly research initiatives, exhibitions, public and educational programs, web-based content, educator resources and publications.
- Places: The Molina Family Latino Gallery in the National Museum of American History (scheduled to open in 2021) and digital platforms.
The center also collaborates throughout the Smithsonian and beyond to promote national dialogue on the role of museums and cultural centers in advancing Latino-community cultural development. It manages and administers federal funds through the Latino Initiatives Pool, which has supported more than 500 Latino projects throughout the Smithsonian. The pool also supports the Latino Curatorial Initiative, which has placed 13 Latino and Latina curators, supported by eight curatorial assistants at various Smithsonian museums and research centers.
Molina Family Latino Gallery
The Molina Family Latino Gallery is scheduled to open in the National Museum of American History in 2021.
Fostering the Next Generation of Leaders and Professionals
Latino Museum Studies Program began in 1994 and advances professional development of emerging museum-studies scholars by engaging them with content experts across the Smithsonian. The program has produced a diverse alumni network that is shaping the field of Latino and Museum Studies throughout the country.
Young Ambassadors Program serves graduating high school Latina and Latino seniors, fostering the next generation of leaders in the arts, sciences and humanities. Students participate in immersive programming in Washington, D.C., before completing local internships and civic engagement activities in their communities. The program features a robust alumni network focusing on continuing education, professional development and community connections.
¡Descubra! Family Programs engages Latino audiences across the country with intergenerational programs that build both science skills and cultural awareness. ¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert programs feature bilingual presentations by Latina and Latino scientists and collaborating STEM-supporting organizations as well as fun create-it activities that inspire the next generation of science learners. These activities focus on storytelling and build skills around representing identity and heritage.
Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum is the Center’s online hub for Latino digital collections, virtual exhibitions, 3-D simulations, educator-training toolkits and other bilingual resources. It includes robust community engagement through workshops, webinars and virtual programming (e.g., Live Mobile Broadcasts Series).
Public Programs include signature Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations and the annual Day of the Dead Festival. The Center also presents diverse and complex stories about the Latino experience through free concerts, roundtable discussions, films and lectures.
Latino Center-Supported Exhibitions at the Smithsonian
“UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar” highlights the work of two leading contemporary artists who grapple with the under- and misrepresentation of certain minorities in portraiture and American history. It is on view at the National Portrait Gallery through January 2019.
“Taíno: Native Heritage and Identity in the Caribbean” explores the cultural legacies of Native peoples across the region and contextualize the growing Taíno movement. The exhibition is on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City, through October 2019.
“Rebeca Méndez Selects” is the 17th installation in this series at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design
Museum. Méndez draws connections across the diverse collections of the Smithsonian to explore how culture, design, technology and the natural world have converged. It is on view through June 2019.
“The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire” explores one of history’s most exceptional engineering achievements: the Qhapaq Ñan (the Inka Road). It looks at the foundations of the road system, technologies that made building it possible and the legacy of the Inka Empire. It is on view at the National Museum of the American Indian through June 2020.
“Bridging the Americas: Community and Belonging from Panama to Washington, D.C.” presents the various ways that Panamanians in the Washington, D.C., area think about home and belonging. It is a permanent exhibition at the Anacostia Community Museum.
“Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975” will explore artistic reactions to the Vietnam War created during the height of the U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia. It will be on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum from March through August 2019 and will start traveling nationwide in late 2019.
“Latinos and Baseball: In the Barrios and Big Leagues” will reflect the social and cultural influence of the game on Latino communities. It is scheduled to open at the National Museum of American History in April 2020.
“Dolores Huerta: Revolution in the Fields/Revolución en los Campos” looks at Dolores Huerta, a principal leader of the California farmworkers’ movement in the 1960s and 1970s. It is currently in development at the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.
Latino Center updates can be found at www.latino.si.edu and on social media platforms, including Twitter (@SLC_Latino), Facebook (@SLCLatino) and Instagram (@SLC_Latino).
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Linda St. Thomas