The House Passes Bill for the Creation of a National Latinx Museum

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jul 29, 2020

The House of Representatives approved construction for a museum of American Latinx history to be built on the National Mall, the Friends of the American Latino Museum (FRIENDS) announced on their website.

The creation of a Smithsonian National American Latino Museum will be “dedicated to commemorating the 500 plus years of American Latino contributions to the nation’s military, sciences, economic power, civil rights and the arts,” the press release says. Now that the House has overwhelmingly approved the bill, FRIENDS is pushing for the Senate to do the same.

“Latinos have been contributing to the building, shaping and defending of our nation since before its founding, but these indispensable stories of American history have largely been absent from our magnificent museums on the national mall,” Danny Vargas, chairman of the FRIENDS board, said in the statement. “More than ever, every American would benefit from a more complete picture of the history of our great country and all the communities who sacrificed to build her. Now we stand at the precipice of enshrining an enduring institution that will fill the missing pages from our history books and inspire countless future generations to come.”

The idea for a National American Latino Museum was proposed more than 25 years ago, in a 1994 Smithsonian Institution report entitled “Willful Neglect,” which read:

The Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum complex in the world, displays a pattern of willful neglect towards the estimated 25 million Latinos in the United states. Because of both Indigenous roots and Spanish heritage, Latinos predate the British in the Americas…. Yet the Institution almost entirely excludes and ignores Latinos in nearly every aspect of its operations.”

The report also stated, “The Smithsonian must commit itself to making Latino initiatives a permanent part of the Smithsonian budget.

Before yesterday’s House bill, only one other bill passed, in 2008, according to the FRIEND’s press release. It was to establish the creation of a commission that would study the viability of a Latinx museum. The National American Latino Museum Act, however, will push the idea to the next step of approving the actual building of the museum. 

To learn more about the museum’s progress or share thoughts on what it should include (say, Frida Kahlo’s cast?), visit FRIENDS here