While the world has homed in on the COVID-19 relief part of the recent bill that passed, some other significant moments in history have been made here. Congress also passed legislation to create a National Latino Museum and, separately, a National Women’s Museum. Both museums will be a part of the Smithsonian’s collection of museums on the National Mall.
The National Museum Of The American Latino
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who co-sponsored the measure with Republican Senator John Cornyn, notes, “We have overcome tremendous obstacles and unbelievable hurdles to get to this historic moment, but as I’ve said before, Latinos are used to overcoming obstacles.”
The museum is slated to celebrate the significant contributions that Latinx people have made to this country. “Latinos have contributed significantly to the success of the United States while overcoming systemic discrimination,” said Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “Now, our stories will have a new home with a Latino Museum on the National Mall.”
America is home to approximately 60 million Latinx, people, making up 18.5 percent of the U.S. population and the country’s second-largest non-White group people group. The Smithsonian reported in 1994 that a pattern of “willful neglect” has plagued the contributions of Latinx people to the United States.
The U.S. is home to about 60 million Latinos, 18.5 percent of the U.S. population. They are the country’s second-largest ethnic minority group. A 1994 Smithsonian report found a pattern of “willful neglect” about U.S. Latinos’ history and their contributions.
Menendez adds that “As a first-generation Cuban American, I know what it’s like to feel invisible in a nation where Latinos are seldom celebrated. I am enormously proud of my role in getting this legislation over the finish line and cannot wait until the day when I can take my granddaughters to visit the National Museum of the American Latino in our nation’s capital.”
The House and Senate approved the bill which is moving forward now, though, slowly, of course, due to the pandemic.
The Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum
Upon entrance of most museums in the United States, you’ll find women relegated to a single, small section of the museum at worst or only a few mingled in with the men featured in history museums. The depictions of women in history in the United States have been deeply lacking. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a strong forerunner for the bill to create this museum, notes on her website, “A national museum dedicated to recounting this history will show not only our country but the world, that the U.S. values and appreciates women and what they have done to help build this great country. It will serve to inspire men and women of all ages who come from around the world to visit the great museums of our nation’s capital.”
Currently, there is no comprehensive museum in the United States that has been dedicated to the history of women in the nation, textbooks underrepresent women across the nation, only 9% of statues in Washington D.C. depict women and only 5% of the approximate 2,400 national monuments in the country honor women.
Maloney began the process of leading the efforts for this museum in 1998 and finally saw her hard work passed into law recently. Maloney stated the week before the vote, “For too long, women’s stories have been left out of the telling of our nation’s history, but with this vote, we begin to rectify that.”