The First and Only Latinx Museum To Be Established at the National Mall

Within the last 20 years, the U.S. has made strides to recognize the injustices of its past, specifically in reference to minority communities. With this has come the establishment and creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. While this is a big step in respecting those who make up the foundations of this country, many members of the Latinx community want the same respect.

If passed, the S.1267 bill will allow for the creation of an American Latino Museum. According to an online Congressional database, the purposes of the museum would be to:

  1. Shed light on the contributions made to American society by members of the Latinx community.
  2. Allow for the “collection, study, research, and establishment of exhibitions and programs related to [Latinx culture].”
  3. Allow for the collaboration with the Smithsonian and other educational institutions in the United States and abroad to aid with Latinx research and appreciation for the culture.

Along with all of this, the bill would allow for a Board of Trustees who would essentially be working side by side with the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian in order to advise on all issues pertaining to the preservation and administration of the new museum.

bird's-eye view of sitting on bench while discussion Marco Orilesi/Unsplash

In July 2020, the House of Representatives voted to continue the process of pushing the plans for the museum forward. This is considerable news because it is the closest lawmakers for said bill have come to achieving this goal, even though the creation process still has a ways to go.

Large names within the Latinx community, like Emilio Estefan and Eva Longoria, are advocating for the National Museum of the American Latino’s establishment. Their belief is that it will help members of the Latinx community as well as members of other communities to appreciate and learn about their past, present and future. When the Museum of African American History and Culture was in talks, it took 13 years until they were able to finally open their doors to the public. Since its conception, it has remained the most popular museum within the National ball, but some representatives have spoken out against the establishment of a Latinx museum for fear of it creating division.

CBS News explains that in 2011 Jim Moran, the then-Democratic Representative of Virginia, spoke in opposition of its construction, stating he thought that Hispanics would go to the Latinx museum, whites would go to the original Smithsonian museum and blacks would go to the African-American Museum, ultimately creating division and that is not what America is about. However, this point was met with major backlash by the museum’s supporters. Due to the Hispanic community showing a steady exponential growth rate of 52 percent within the last decade, the community now makes up 18 percent of the nation’s citizens.

Exhibit Painting Display Riccardo Bresciani/Pexels

With this information in mind, the question of where the bill stands still looms. The S.1267 bill has been approved by the House but is still waiting on Senate approval. Once passed, they can begin the process of building and would be projected to open in eight to 10 years. However, with COVID-19, the Smithsonian complex has taken a major financial hit and is fearful for the future of the museums that already stand, let alone the funding of a new one. Many question if whether or not they should still proceed in the fight for a Latinx museum during a time of crisis remains, but supporters of the bill say this is a fight that must persist and “uncertainty shouldn’t impede the progress.”

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