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National Museum of the American Latino (NMAL)

Jorge Zamanillo, Founding Director

On December 27, 2020, legislation passed calling for the Smithsonian to establish the National Museum of the American Latino (NMAL). The new museum will be the cornerstone for visitors to learn how Latinos have contributed and continue to contribute to U.S. art, history, culture, and science. Additionally, it will serve as a gateway to exhibitions, collections, and programming at other Smithsonian museums, research centers, and traveling exhibition services.

Founded as the Smithsonian Latino Center in 1997, NMAL has worked collaboratively with Smithsonian museums and research centers, ensuring that the contributions of the Latino community in the arts, history, and scientific achievement are explored, celebrated and preserved. We support research, exhibitions, public and educational programs, web-based content, and collections and archives. We also manage leadership and professional development programs for Latino youth, emerging scholars and museum professionals.

The Museum:

In collaboration with Smithsonian units and affiliated organizations across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and through its management of the Latino Initiatives Pool, the NMAL provides funding, technical assistance and management services in support of the following:

  • The Latino Curatorial Initiative, a multi-year program placing Latino curators and content experts in Smithsonian museums, research centers and its traveling exhibition service.
  • Latino research, exhibitions, public and educational programs, web content, and collections and archives in collaboration with Smithsonian units and its affiliated organizations across the Unites States and Puerto Rico.
  • Latino Museum Studies Program, a pathway program for emerging Latino scholars and museum professionals through its undergraduate, graduate, and post graduate programs.
  • Opened in June 2022, the gallery is the Smithsonian's first museum space dedicated to the Latino experience on the National Mall. Designed to engage multigenerational and cross-cultural audiences, MFLG integrates the universal principles of inclusive and accessible design. The content and overall experience are in English and Spanish and accessible to visitors with varying physical, sensory, and brain-based conditions. The Molina Family Latino Gallery is a precursor to the National Museum of the American Latino and foreshadows what a Latino museum could embody.
  • Young Ambassadors Program, a leadership development program for graduating high school, college-bound Latinos.

Research Staff

The National Museum of the American Latino (NMAL) does not have curators on staff. However, there are content experts working alongside Smithsonian and external curators on upcoming exhibitions and programming for the Molina Family Latino Gallery at the National Museum of American History. The individuals include Melissa Carrillo, Head of Digital Initiatives, and Ranald Woodaman, Exhibitions Director who may serve as advisors on fellowship proposals.

NMAL contributes to Latino/a/x Studies at the Smithsonian through its support of the Latino Curatorial Initiative, a cohort of Latino/a/x content experts working in Latino history, art, and culture. These individuals are supported by NMAL through the Latino Initiatives Pool, a federal fund managed by NMAL. These individuals conduct research, organize exhibitions and public programs, inform educational programs and web content, and build collections and archives that reflect the contributions of Latinos to the United States.

At present, NMAL supports curators and content experts at the following museums and centers: Archives of American Art (Josh T. Franco, PhD, National Collector), Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (Amalia Córdova, PhD Latino Digital Curator), Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum (Christina De Leon, Associate Curator of Latino Design), National Museum of African American History and Culture (Ariana Curtis, PhD Museum Curator, Latinx Studies), National Museum of American History (Verónica A. Méndez, PhD, Curator of Division of Political and Military History; and Margaret Salazar-Porzio, PhD, Curator, Division of Home and Community Life ), National Museum of American Indian (L. Antonio Curet, PhD Curator of Archeology), and the National Portrait Gallery (Taína Caragol, PhD, Curator of Painting and Sculpture and Latino Art and History). The Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Services (Maria del Carmen Cossu, Project Director for Latino Initiatives) does not generate academic research, but is a participant of the Latino Curatorial Initiative.

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