There is no denying the power and respect that the Smithsonian Institution brings. Founded over 150 years ago in Washington D.C., it has museums devoted to Air and Space, Natural History, and American Art (just to name a few). Now several political groups are pushing for Smithsonian to build an American Latino Museum, which by all accounts, will not be an easy task to accomplish.
The idea for a Latino Smithsonian museum has been kicked around for decades, particularly because many advocates expressed that the Latino experience was being ignored by the organization’s 19 other institutions. Their plight got even more attention when Smithsonian announced its creation of an African-American and an American Indian Museum in the early 2000’s.
Ironically, the creation of culturally-inspired Smithsonians is what has turned some lawmakers off from the Latino Museum idea.
“I don’t want a situation,” said Virginia Representative Jim Moran, “where whites go to the original museum, African-Americans go to the African-American museum, Indians go to the Indian museum, Hispanics go to the Latino American museum. That’s not America.”
In recent years, Smithsonian has responded to the lack of Hispanic exhibits on its premises. Within the past decade, the institution has created an internal office to promote Latino events and designated San Antonio’s Museo Alameda as an official Smithsonian affiliate.
But according to National Council of La Raza spokeswoman Lisa Navarrete, that is simply not enough,
“It’s…important to show other Americans that our roots go back centuries on this continent,” she recently said.
Perhaps one of the biggest arguments against creating the museum is (not surprisingly) the budget. The African-American Museum, which is still under construction, has a price tag of roughly $500 million, half of which is being paid by the federal government.
And seeing how the country is still in the middle of a major budget crisis, it is unlikely that the feds will spend another $250 million to help build a similar project. But that isn’t to say that a Latino Museum will never happen.
A commission for the project currently exists (with the support of celebs like Emilio Estevez and Eva Longoria) and has already drafted blueprints for the design. They are hopeful to include it in D.C.’s National Mall and have even created a website to get other American Latinos inspired by the project.
Would you like to see Smithsonian build an American Latino Museum? Sound off in the comments or @MTV3.