Will the Fourth Time Be the Charm? US Legislators Have Reintroduced a Bill to Open the National Museum of the American Latino

If approved, the museum will join the Smithsonian Institution museums on the National Mall in Washington.

Jose Serrano (D-NY) is among a group of politicians calling for the establishment of the National Museum of the American Latino. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
Jose Serrano (D-NY) is among a group of politicians calling for the establishment of the National Museum of the American Latino. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

After several previous unsuccessful attempts, a group of bipartisan congressional leaders announced at a press conference this afternoon that they are reintroducing legislation to open the National Museum of the American Latino, which legislators want to build on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Among them are congressmen José E. Serrano (D-NY) and Will Hurd (R-TX) and senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

According to language in the bill, the museum would be focused on illuminating Latino contributions to the history of the United States by providing for the collection, study, publication, and exhibition of objects related to Latino life, art, and history. The museum would also collaborate with other Smithsonian Institution museums and research centers to promote the appreciation of Latino culture in the US.

The bill would establish a museum board of trustees to advise the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian “on all matters related to the administration and preservation of the museum.”

Will the fourth time be the charm? Legislation to create the museum was first introduced in 2011, following the release of a report by the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino that same year. The bill did not pass committee, and was reintroduced in both houses in 2013 and 2016.

In the 2011 report, the commission landed on a $600 million fundraising goal, with $300 million coming from private sources and the other half from government appropriations. The authors believed that the target could be achieved in 10 years. But the cost estimate today would likely be higher, eight years after those figures were released.

“As the largest ethnic group in the nation with arguably the oldest ties to the founding of this nation,” says a note on the website for the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, “we have a compelling case for moving onto the iconic National Mall and joining the many prestigious institutions that welcome the over 30 million tourists and residents each year to present our American story.”


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