From decades of activism by Labor leader Cesar Chavez, to the career of Robert Clemente in the Major League Baseball, to the music of “Salsa Queen” Celia Cruz with a message, the stories of famous Latinos who went down in history will be shown in the new Smithsonian.
The National Museum of American Latin Americans will open its inaugural gallery at the National Museum of American History on June 18. The new Museum of American Latinos is unlikely to open in its own building for at least another 10 years, but the Smithsonian Museum will run exhibits until the museum finds its permanent home.
The original exhibition, entitled ¡¡Presente! The Latin American History of the United States, aims to “shed light on the historical and cultural heritage of American Hispanics,” the Smithsonian said in a statement. Inside the interactive gallery, named after the family of the late Smithsonian donor David Molina, the artifacts are organized on themes such as “colonial heritage” and “immigration history.”
“Present!” the gallery will tell the stories of people like Chavez, a Mexican American, founder of the United Farm Workers of America, who advocated for safer working conditions and higher wages for colleagues. It was also notable for Clemente, a Puerto Rican baseball player who mostly played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and used his platform for 18 seasons in MLB to defend Puerto Rican children and African-Latins when segregation was still widespread throughout the United States. Cruz, a legendary Salsa-born Salsa performer, used the catchphrase “¡azúcar!” – it became a cry for black Cubans, whose ancestors were enslaved on the sugar plantations of the island nation.
Other notables, such as Louise Moreno, a Guatemalan-born union leader and civil rights activist, and Colombian American drag performer Jose Sarri, who was the first gay to run for public office in the United States, will also be featured in the exhibition. The Smithsonian said.
All information found in the gallery will be available in English and Spanish – and for those unable to reach Washington – online, through a “company website” that showcases some of the artifacts and stories found in the personal record. exhibition, said the Smithsonian.
Edward Diaz, acting deputy director of the American Museum of Latinos, said 2022 was a “special year” for the gallery’s opening – the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Latin American Center, which was Smithsonian’s initiative to better represent Latinos within its walls. .
But it was not until December 2020 that Congress approved the creation of the American Museum of Latin Americans as well as the Museum of the History of American Women. Lawyers for years have urged Congress and the Smithsonian to create a museum of American Latinos. The cost estimate was submitted by the presidential commission back in 2011.
The process of introducing, approving and actually opening the Smithsonian Museum could take more than a decade: a bill establishing the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture was passed in 2003, but the museum itself did not open until 2016.