New Steps Forward For the National American Latino Museum


A new executive director announced for the Friends of the National American Latino Museum Photo:
 A project long due to the Latino community in the United States, the Friends of the National American Latino Museum (FRIENDS) face two major challenges in the near future. On one hand, the approval of legislation that would ensure not only the project’s concretion but also its site at the National Mall, adjacent to other Smithsonian museums. On the other, they need to raise an estimated $650 million to build the museum.
This hefty weight has been placed on Estuardo Rodriguez shoulders as the new Executive Director of the institution. Rodriguez brings a great deal of experience and understanding of the project’s goals as he has been involved in it since FRIENDS’ creation.

“Our schools keep teaching the foundational history of the United States ignoring the important role that Hispanics had in it,” said Rodriguez to VOXXI. “You cannot keep telling the story without mentioning the large territories where Spaniards were settled way before English colonies were established, and the role that generations of Latinos have played in the construction of this nation.”

In fact, historian Juan Gonzalez describes the first Spanish expeditions into North America territory starting in 1513, one hundred years before the Mayflower’s arrival to these shores.

The American Latino Museum

Although a group of recognized Latino leaders started designing the idea in 2005, FRIENDS has been working relentlessly since 2008 in the realization of a museum that would showcase, celebrate and educate the vibrant and diverse history and culture of the American Latino experience while highlighting the contributions made by its leaders, pioneers and communities.“The American Latino Museum is not only a matter of justice, it is a matter of historical accuracy,” Rodriguez said.
Next steps in the life of the project
In this newly created position, Rodriguez has two primary goals. “We are working at creating a solid base of support for the project. We already have 350K plus people in social media that have expressed their interest and approval. The museum has not been built yet and it has more support than any other museum in the country,” he shared.
The other primary goal is to build a national effort to push forward legislation currently in Congress. The President has already signaled his approval and in Congress, the act has bipartisan support.
US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Majority Leader Reid (D-NV), US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) reintroduced this bipartisan bill in the Senate and House of Representatives back in March of this year.
The bill seeks the location of the Smithsonian American Latino Museum within the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries building on the National Mall.
This authorization of the museum’s location follows recommendations of the 2011 report by the bipartisan Commission to Study the Potential Creation of the National Museum of American Latino, established by law in 2008.
“Although there is a narrow window of opportunity, we still hope it will be approved before the end of the year,” Rodriguez said.
Funding, an important issue to be considered
The third issue Rodriguez would tackle in his new position is funding for the new project.
The idea of the Commission was to support the project with a mix of community funding and deferred government appropriation. The report states that no “federal appropriation would be necessary for the first six years upon establishment of the museum” based on private donations that would afford the pre-design and pre-construction phases of the project.
“We estimate the cost in $650 million for the total project, so our goal is to raise…

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