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Will Latinos Get a Museum in Washington?

April 22, 2011
Plain English Version

Museo Alameda, San Antonio Texas

The Smithsonian Institution is considering building a museum recognizing the history and contributions of Latino Americans. The idea faces obstacles. The cost of the museum is a problem. Others think another ethnic museum is not necessary. There is a museum for American Indians and one for African-Americans is underway.

Should every group have its own museum? Some people think it is not good for America to have people just visiting their own cultural center. Supporters of the museum say they also face anti-immigrant feeling. Fifteen years ago a report said only two of 470 people in the “notable Americans” section of the National Portrait Gallery were Latino.

The Smithsonian is now spending money for Latino exhibitions. And The Museo Alameda in San Antonio Texas (photo above) can borrow materials from the Smithsonian. There are dozens of museums focusing on Latinos across the country. Museum supporters say there should be one in the nation’s capital.

The economy and the change of power in the House of Representative are making it difficult for the planning of a museum to go forward. Also there is opposition to building more structures on the National Mall.

Congress is getting a report on the museum in early May. There is little chance of federal money for the museum. Half the $500 million cost of The National Museum of African American History and Culture came from the government. The government also paid for two-thirds of the American Indian museum.

The May report will suggest that if a museum goes ahead, most of the money will come from the private sector. Advocates say a museum showing Latino contributions to America is important because immigration issues show Latinos in a negative way.

The New York Times

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