The Smithsonian Latino Center will open the Molina Family Latino Gallery in 2021 at the National Museum of American History. The space will be dedicated to celebrating the US Latino experience, and is the first gallery space of its kind. Assistant Professor of Applied Theater Rachel DeSoto-Jackson (Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance) was invited to join the national advisory board governing the creation of this gallery.
On December 3–4, 2019, DeSoto-Jackson will travel to Washington, DC to join the Molina Family Latino Gallery advisory board national convening. The gallery will feature a 4,500 sq. ft. space featuring bilingual stories, interactive exhibits, multimedia engagement, audience participation, and viewer-generated content.
The gallery space is made possible by a $10-million gift to the Smithsonian Latino Center by members of the Molina family. This founding gift was made in memory of Dr. C. David Molina, a healthcare leader in California who founded the publicly traded Fortune 500 company Molina Healthcare, Inc. The Smithsonian Latino Center has named the new gallery space the Molina Family Latino Gallery in recognition of this momentous donation.
The gallery space is also funded through a $2-million gift made possible by Target.
The Molina Family Latino Gallery will be a space for audiences of all ages and backgrounds to find common ground, share intersecting experiences, and present perspectives that are not bound by nationality. An introductory area will provide a framework for the history and concepts presented in the gallery’s rotating exhibitions. The planned inaugural exhibition, “Making Home: Latino Stories of Community and Belonging,” will examine the historical roots of Latino culture as it shaped the continent and the US. Visitors will also have the opportunity to extend their visit by engaging with active learning programs, which will offer flexible education and public programming through a variety of activity types and immersive digital experiences.
Since 1997, the Smithsonian Latino Center has worked collaboratively with the Smithsonian’s museums and research centers to ensure that contributions of the Latino community are recognized, preserved, and celebrated throughout the Institution.
“We’re thrilled to finally be realizing the dream of having a Latino gallery at the Smithsonian, but we recognize that our job continues outside of the museum’s walls,” said Smithsonian Latino Center Director Eduardo Díaz. “Latino history is American history, and we have a responsibility to reflect the stories and experiences of Latinas and Latinos in the US today. 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 Smithsonian Latino Center serves as the corazón (heart) of Latinidad at the Smithsonian. Through its exhibits, initiatives, and programs, it unlocks the dynamic Latino stories that shape national experience and identity in the US. In preserving and presenting these stories, the center empowers a greater understanding and deeper appreciation for the enduring contributions of Latinos to the country in a way that celebrates Latino presence in American history and culture, and convenes inclusive conversations about the stories that continue to inspire generations to come.