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.