The Smithsonian Institution, according to their website, is "the world's largest museum and research complex." Located in Washington, D.C., most museums are free and open every day of the year except December 25th. The nineteen museums and galleries include the African American History and Culture Museum, and the American Indian Museum, but will they find room for a museum highlighting the contributions of Latinos in the United States?
Actress Eva Longoria, best known for her role in TV show Desperate Housewives, and musician Emilio Estefan, along with the private non-profit group Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, have taken leadership roles in the campaign to rally public support for a bill in Congress to create the museum.
Projections for the project require the government to pay half of the $402 million needed for construction, in addition to committing to cover 40 percent of its $47 million per year operating costs.
According to identical bills which were introduced in the House and Senate in November, the site for the new museum would be in the 130-year old Arts and Industries Building – a beautiful but vacant historic building in need of renovations which sits in front of the famous working carousel in the middle of the National Mall.
Even with celebrity support, passing the bill may be an uphill battle. While ordinary citizens in D.C. and across the country support the effort with small donations to Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, I hope to see some other big name Latino/a actors and musicians step it up and make a public donation pledging their support.
I bring my kids to the National Mall several times a year. Some of the museums, we may even be able to navigate with our eyes closed at this point. I bring them to the museums for fun and to educate them on history and culture. However, I still await the day when they can walk into a museum that reflects who they are as Latinos in the United States.
Tracy López is a bilingual writer living outside the Washington DC metro area. She is the founder of Latinaish.com.