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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Art, Music and Community

Attend virtual and live events, learn more about Latinx contributions to history

members of the Grupo Folklorico de Fullbright  at the Cinco de Mayo
Boris Yaro/Getty Images

​Understanding how Latinx history fits into U.S. history is a key part of building community and culture. An exhibit at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., is breaking new ground and helping people understand those contributions as part of 2022’s National Hispanic Heritage Month. ​

​“¡Presente!”, an exhibit dedicated to the Latinx journey in America, honors icons including Toypurina, a Gabrielino medicine woman in California who rose up against Spanish colonizers; Celia Cruz, the Cuban American “Queen of Salsa Music”; and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina on the nation’s highest court. The exhibit is a precursor to the National Museum of the American Latino. Legislation establishing the museum was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2020, and the project is under development. ​

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​“Representation matters, and Latinas and Latinos deserve to understand how their histories fit into the national narrative of the U.S.,” says David Coronado, senior communications officer for the National Museum of the American Latino. “This exhibit introduces visitors to the stories of Latinas and Latinos who’ve shaped the U.S. from the perspectives of the people who lived them.”

That effort aligns with the theme for Hispanic Heritage month: “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.”

Across the country there are many ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, to recognize and honor the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans in the U.S. Here are a few: ​

Immerse yourself in arts and culture

​Learn about Latin American heritage by visiting museum exhibits throughout the U.S. Many offer virtual experiences. ​

​LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is offering “Art and Imagination in Spanish America” which features more than 90 works created between the years 1500 and 1800 including paintings, sculptures, fabric and furniture from countries including Ecuador, Mexico and Guatemala. ​

​Works by Puerto Rican artists Jose Campeche and Francisco Oller are on display at the "Nostalgia For My Island” exhibit starting Sept. 20 at Chicago’s National Puerto Rican Museum. The exhibit features 20 works by Puerto Rican artists that have never traveled outside of the island. Also in Chicago, the National Museum of Mexican Art is highlighting the work of painter Frida Kahlo, art programs for children and a new “Día de Muertos, Memories & Offerings” exhibit that opens Sept. 23. That installation uses art to honor community members who died from COVID-19 and includes Alex Carmona’s “La Salida” — a reduction woodcut on rice paper. ​

​Plenty of Latinx authors have made their mark in the U.S. and around the world. Literary fans can visit The Colorado Alliance of Latino Mentors and Authors Books&Beer fair on Sept. 17 in Denver, which will feature academic treatises, biographies, memoirs and historical fiction narrating Latinx contributions in the history of Colorado. The same day in Tucson, Arizona, author Estella Gonzalez will read from her Chola Salvation story collection about the lives of Mexican-Americans. ​

​And for a deep dive into how Latinas view issues of race and ethnicity, the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, Florida, will host a discussion with oral historian Rebecca Dominguez-Karimi on Oct. 8. ​

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Enjoy being serenaded by sounds​

​​The 35th annual Hispanic Heritage Awards will honor a host of Latinx artists for their work in the arts, business, sciences and more. The awards, which will feature performances from top Hispanic artists, were created in 1987 by the White House to commemorate the establishment of Hispanic Heritage Month. The show will air Sept. 30 on PBS stations and stream on pbs.org.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy music in your own back yard that speak to salsa, mariachi, flamenco and other melodies with their roots in Hispanic culture. Start the fiesta with Cuban salsa group Luis Manuel & The Charambo Band in Palm Beach, Florida. Learn more about the history of Latin American Music at the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, Florida, on Sept. 18, when musicologist Welson Tremura and Grammy winner José Valentino put on an interactive presentation about Latin American traditions in music. ​

​Blend music and dance with a Dominican Bachata dance class in Dallas on Sept. 17. And Miami, which has the most Cubans outside of Cuba, will host its first Salsa Festival from Oct. 14 to 16, featuring workshops and competition. ​​

Get a taste of Latin America ​​

Flavors vary among regions of the Latin American diaspora. Learn how to make smoked cochinita pibil, a traditional Yucatec Mayan slow-roasted pork dish, during the Cooking Up History demonstration on Sept. 17 at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum. Love all things spicy? Head to the Chili & Frijoles Festival in Pueblo, Colorado, from Sept. 23 to 25 for a taste test that might include chili ice cream or chili beer. The 23rd Hispanic Heritage Festival in Greenville, South Carolina, on Oct. 2 will offer a menu of traditional foods from 15 Latin American countries. ​​With plenty of ways to celebrate, learn more about Hispanic Heritage through food, music, dancing and the arts. ​​