May 5th, 2011
National Smithsonian Museum of the American Latino Proposed for Washington, D.C.

I haven’t read a truer statement in a long time:

“The Mall, more than any other public space in our country does indeed tell the story of America, and yet that story is not complete. There must also be a living monument that recognizes that Latinos were here well before 1776 and that in this new century, the future is increasingly Latino, more than fifty million people and growing…”

The Mall is the National Mall, in Washington, D.C. , and the quote was taken from a report in the Washington Post about a presidential commission created to study the feasibility of a National Museum of the American Latino.”

The museum would follow a broad sweep of history, recognizing 500 years of contributions by the Latino community to the military, economics, government, arts and culture.

Opponents say a Latino Museum would be bad.

The nay-sayers, also known as the usual suspects (you know who they are), object to the creation of  separate museums for the varying ethnic groups in the US. The claim is that a Latino Museum would foster divisiveness.

The commission, established by President George W. Bush in 2008, had something to say about that:

At this moment in our country’s history when cultural understanding could not be more important to the enduring strength of our democratic ideals, we ask that you consider the importance of creating The Smithsonian American Latino Museum not only as a monument for Latinos, but as a 21st Century learning laboratory rooted in the mission that every American should have access to the stories of all Americans.


It would be built in front of the Capitol.

The idea is to build the museum directly in front and to the left of the Capitol, as you face the front of the Capitol. The site is currently a parking lot. When finished it would form part of the Smithsonian Institution at a cost of about $600 million. And that could pose the biggest obstacle.

Some people believe that the Smithsonian is already overburdened with 19 museums and is currently involved in the establishment of a National Museum of African American History and Culture at a cost of $500 million.

Funding is needed.

Funding for the Latino Museum is planned to come from the private sector. The commission, headed by San Antonian Henry Muñoz III, says it will raise $300 million and ask Congress for the rest over a period of ten years.

The report will be delivered to the White House today; you can download the commission’s report HERE.

Follow Victor Landa on Twitter: @vlanda

[Photo by nikoretro]

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