Thursday, November 23, 2017

Latino Museum Commission to present Report to Congress

The National Museum of the American Latino Commission, whose job is to study the creation of a Latino museum in the nation’s capital, will present its findings to Congress early next month.

For two years the federal commission has studied what the museum might look like and researched what Latinos would like to see in such a museum. Congress would have to approve the plan.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) passed the legislation to create the commission two years ago, but the idea for the museum dates back to the mid-1990s when a task force found that Latinos had been largely ignored by the Smithsonian in a report titled “Willful Neglect.”

The National Portrait Gallery featured only 2 Latinos in the “notable Americans” section out of a total of 470 persons.

“It’s even more important to show other Americans that our roots go back centuries on this continent,” Lisa Navarette, from the National Council of La Raza—a Latino advocacy organization, said.

Celebrities are also supporting the project with Eva Longoria recently joining the commission and using Facebook to garner public support for the museum.  A Facebook page for the Latino museum is asking fans, “What would a National Museum of the American Latino mean to you?” and, “What are the benefits of telling the American Latino story?”

The proposed museum is not without opposition and some members of Congress are objecting to its construction not only due to funding but also due to the concept.

Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) says “he doesn’t want each minority group going to their own museum and skipping the others.” However, the argument doesn’t hold leverage because the others have already been established and this museum would only complete the series.

The financial argument against the museum is the most significant challenge since it is not expected that federal dollars will be allocated for the project and most of the money will likely have to be raised privately.  The Smithsonian is already facing a $500 million price tag for the National Museum of African American History and Culture which is currently under construction.

“The atmosphere is not friendly at all,” said Estuardo V. Rodriguez Jr. from the Raben Group and who has worked with the commission pro-bono.  Rodriguez, however, is undeterred from his mission of persuading Congress members with a large number of Latino constituents to support the museum and turn it into a reality.

The site for the museum has been narrowed down to four locations, all of which are on the National Mall. The commission is expected to present its findings to Congress during the first week of May.

NY Times

Gadling

Hispanically Speaking News

National Museum of the American Latino Commission

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