Culture

The Smithsonian Is Opening The First Permanent Latino Gallery In 2021 Highlighting Latino Contributions

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The Smithsonian Institution is one of the most known museum and research centers celebrating numerous American achievements from all walks of life. Started in 1997, the Smithsonian Latino Center has never had a physical location. According to the website, the center has worked collaboratively with other Smithsonian properties to include temporary exhibits featuring American Latinos and their achievements. That’s all about to change with the announcement that the Smithsonian will open its first gallery focused on the U.S. Latino experience, in the National Museum of American History.

The Molina Family Latino Gallery is set to debut in 2021 and will focus on sharing the stories of Latino communities in the U.S.

The new gallery space will explore Latino identities and include bilingual exhibits exploring the history and contributions of American Latinos. The first exhibit will be called “Making Home: Latino Stories of Community and Belonging,” and highlight the various contributions of Latino cultures in North America and their influence around the world. This will mark the first time a permanent gallery space will be offered at the National Museum of American History highlighting the Latino community.

A $10 million donation toward the gallery was made from members of the Molina family, who dedicated the donation in memory of their father, Dr. C. David Molina, the founder of Molina Healthcare.

The gallery will offer visitors many interactive pieces, including a podcast and a forthcoming app.

The gallery will have a distance-learning component where people can learn about Latino history from anywhere through podcasts, a mobile broadcast and a Smithsonian Latino Center app. These are all efforts by the Smithsonian to increase its Latino representation. They will include recent highlights of Latino artists and social issues that affect Latino-Americans.

“Latino history is American history, and we have a responsibility to reflect the stories and experiences of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. today,” Eduardo Díaz, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, said in a statement. “We’ll continue to do that not only through this future gallery, but also through our diverse programmatic, educational and professional development programs, as well as our work to unlock and increase access to Latino content across the Institution.”

The gallery opens up more possibilities to one day have a new museum dedicated to Latinos as a whole.

Many Latino advocates celebrated the announcement of the gallery in hopes that it one day leads to a museum dedicated to Latinos. For years, there’s been a call to create a Latino Museum on the National Mall. Friends of the American Latino Museum (FALM), a non-profit organization, has been key in bringing attention to this. Estuardo Rodriguez, executive director of FALM, says that the African American Museum took a similar route.

“It’s wonderful. This is exactly the road the African American Museum took. They also had a gallery in the American History Museum,” Rodriguez told the Washington Post. “We run on parallel tracks, and we will point to that in our efforts to fundraise and to pass legislation for [a museum].”

The gallery is a huge step forward in terms of not only Latino representation but the acknowledgment of Latino contributions in American history. Diaz hopes the gallery changes perspectives on what it truly means to a Latino in America.

“We want to expand people’s notions of what it means to be Latino,” Diaz said at the ceremonial signing of the donor agreement. “It’s not this homogenous experience. It depends on where you’re from. We want to show how we came together under this big label.”


READ: A New Museum Dedicated To Mexican Food Is Opening In Los Angeles Next Spring

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Wonder Woman Isn’t The Only Latina Superhero To Be On Display At The Smithsonian In Washington

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Wonder Woman Isn’t The Only Latina Superhero To Be On Display At The Smithsonian In Washington

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Historical artifacts from the 1869 Transcontinental Railroad and posters of the women’s suffrage that date back to 1832 that are on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington. Among these historical and important artifacts is the costume of La Borinqueña, an Afro-Puerto Rican superhero.

The costume of La Borinqueña, created by comic book writer Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, is featured in the “Superheroes” exhibition at the Smithsonian.

Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

This significant addition to the exhibit comes just three years since Miranda-Rodriguez debuted La Borinqueña in the first graphic novel.

“La Borinqueña debuted in 2016 at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City,” Miranda-Rodriguez said in a statement. “Throughout the last three years, her overwhelmingly positive reception has provided me the platform to address the humanitarian crisis that grew out of the island of Puerto Rico’s economic crisis. For a year and a half, La Borinqueña became recognized and celebrated by mainstream media outlets and cultural institutions positioning me as a prominent voice for Puerto Ricans.”

Miranda-Rodriguez said that after Hurricane Maria, La Borinqueña became an example of pride and determination.

Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

Miranda-Rodriguez adds that through the La Borinqueña brand, they’ve been able to raise a quarter of a million dollars from the sales of Ricanstruction and La Borinqueña Grants Program.

“Via this program, we have awarded grants to local grassroots organizations in Puerto Rico, further showing the world that our hero truly embodies a heroic ideal,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “Fight for justice, work for justice. In a time where popular culture centers around superhero storylines that take characters to fight in intergalactic wars, La Borinqueña shines a light on the battles that we all need to fight here in our country.”

The costume of La Borinqueña is featured right next to Wonder Woman.

Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

“The fact that both of these costumes were worn by Latinas (Wonder Woman’s Linda Carter is Mexican American) is fitting with the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative, #BecauseOfHerStory in which we are highlighting the many ways women play a role in our culture,” Melinda Machado, director of the Smithsonian’s Office of Communications and Marketing, told NBC News.

The exhibition can be seen now through Nov. 12, and people are praising the addition of La Borinqueña.

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“Having ‘La Borinqueña,’ a Puerto Rican superhero, at the Smithsonian is a source of pride,” Flavio Cumpiano said. “It’s a proven fact that children feel empowered to shoot for greatness when they see real-life people who look like themselves achieve greatness, whether it is a Barack Obama or a Sonia Sotomayor. The same is true for superheroes or action figures or characters.”

Click here for more information on the show.

READ: ‘La Borinqueña’ Is The Afro-Latina Superhero The Comic Book World Has Been Missing

In Honor Of Eva Perón’s 100th Birthday, This New Exhibit Shows Her Love Of Poor Children

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In Honor Of Eva Perón’s 100th Birthday, This New Exhibit Shows Her Love Of Poor Children

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The legacy left behind by Eva Perón is unprecedented. The Argentinian leader was just as influential as her husband Juan Perón, the president of her home country, if not more. In her short life, she advocated for the poor and working class — and that is how the world and her people continue to remember her. Now, a new exhibit shows exactly how she reached even the most vulnerable people.

The Evita Museum, in Argentina, is honoring the 100th birthday of Eva Perón with an exhibit that looks at her work with children.

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The exhibit, titled “Childhood and Peronism, the toys of the Eva Perón Foundation” features several dozen toys that the Former First Lady passed out to children during Christmas between 1948 and 1955, NBC News reports.

Eva, who never had children of her own and died of cervical cancer, handed out toys to the most impoverished children in Argentina.

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According to the network, some children got the toys by Eva herself, and others got them from various post offices across the country.

“Children were always given particular importance in Eva’s work, especially all matters concerning children’s rights,” Marcela Genés, the museum’s curator, told The Associated Press. “She herself had a very impoverished childhood, and that stayed with her. Achieving justice for children was a particular focus for Eva.”

Some visitors who’ve seen the toy exhibit are astonished by her accessibleness, a quality that leaders today hardly ever show.

Instagram/@museoevita

“The variety of toys and the letters the children wrote to ask her for toys caught my eye,” Paola Jaque of Chile told NBC. “She answered them personally, which I don’t believe happens nowadays.”

Click here for more information on this exhibit.

READ: 21 Shots of Latin America That Left Us in Awe

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