Smithsonian Latino Center

August 1, 2017
Media Fact Sheet

Commemorating its 20th anniversary, the Smithsonian Latino Center ensures that the presence of the Latino community is celebrated in the Smithsonian museums. Its anniversary tagline is “Making History Together” (Juntos haciendo historia), and the center achieves its mission through its focus 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: Virtual museum platforms and a future Smithsonian Latino Gallery.

The center also collaborates throughout the Smithsonian and at the regional level 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 nearly 500 Latino projects throughout the Smithsonian. The pool also supports the Latino Curatorial Initiative, which has placed 10 Latino and Latina curators at various Smithsonian museums and research centers. 

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 programing 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.

Engaging Communities

¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert Program Series engages Latino audiences across the country with programming that builds science skills and inspires the next generation of science learners. ¡Descubra! features bilingual presentations by Latina and Latino scientists and collaborating STEM-supporting organizations as well as fun create-it activities.

Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum is the center’s online hub for Latino digital collections, virtual exhibitions, 3-D simulations, educator-training transmedia tookits and other bilingual resources.   It includes robust community engagement through workshops, webinars and virtual programing (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

“Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography” showcases Latino photographers who have responded to the urban crisis in the communities where they lived and worked. They turn a critical eye toward neighborhoods that exist on the margins of major cities like New York and Los Angeles. The exhibition is on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum through August 2017, and will be organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

“Gateways/Portales” highlights Latino migrants and immigrants in four U.S. metro areas: Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Charlotte, N.C.; and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. It explores the ways that these populations use culture to find a home in the United States, while examining the struggles and successes of Latino migrant groups. It is on view at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum through August 2018.

“The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire” explores one of history’s most exceptional engineering achievements: the Qhapaq Ñan (the Inka Road). On view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian through June 2020, the exhibition looks at the foundations of the road system in earlier Andean cultures, technologies that made building the road possible, the cosmology and political organization of the Inka world, and the legacy of the Inka Empire.

“Bridging the Americas: Community and Belonging from Panama to Washington, D.C.” presents the various ways in which Zonians and Panamanians in the Washington metropolitan area think about home and belonging in and in-between Panama and Washington, D.C. This permanent exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum shows the formal ties between the United States and Panama but focuses on the human stories and migrations that underscore the connection.

“Dolores Huerta: Revolution in the Fields/Revolución en los Camposis currently in development at the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service with support from the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition will look at Dolores Huerta, a principal leader of the California farmworkers’ movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed” showcases 160 mostly ceramic objects selected from a collection of more than 12,000 that spans from 1000 B.C. to the present. This exhibition introduces visitors to the richness and complexity of Central America’s ancestral cultures. It is on view at the National Museum of the American Indian’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York City through October 2018.

“Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964” is a bilingual exhibition organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History that traces the experiences of Mexican guest workers and their families, who provided manpower during peak harvest and industrial production times in more than 23 states. It is currently a traveling exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, through November 2017.

“Tamayo: The New York Years” brings together 50 of Rufino Tamayo’s finest artworks and offers a unique opportunity to trace his artistic development—from his urban-themed paintings depicting the modern sights of the city to the dream-like canvases that show an artist eager to propel Mexican art in new directions. The exhibition will be on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum from November through March 2018.

“Taíno: Native Ancestry and Identity in the Caribbean” will explore the cultural legacies of Native peoples across the region and contextualize the growing Taíno movement. The exhibition is scheduled to open at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 2018.

Honoring Latino Legacy Through Research

Latinos and Baseball: In the Barrios and Big Leagues is a multiyear collecting initiative organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to identify artifacts that reflect the social and cultural influence of the game on Latino communities.

Latino D.C. History Project is an ongoing collaboration led by the center to tell the history of the Latino community in the nation’s capital since World War II. Its goals are to produce neighborhood-focused exhibits, murals, historical placemakers and curricula that support a community of historical consciousness.

Imagining the Future

Smithsonian Latino Center Gallery will leverage the center’s people and programs to establish a home on the National Mall. With the leadership of the Smithsonian National Latino Board, early development for the gallery has begun.

Latino Center updates can be found at and on social media platforms, including  Twitter (@SLC_Latino) and Facebook (@SLCLatino), and by following #SLCturns20.

# # #