What's New at Smithsonian Latino Center
  Smithsonian Latino Center

eNewsletter Sign Up | SI Supporting Services | Contact

Smithsonian Latino Center
What's New at SLC

Latino Pool

What's New at the Smithsonian Latino Center

Latino DC History Project

(Right to left) José Sueiro, René López, Eloy Hernández, James Early and Michael Mason talking with the audience about the history of Santería in Washington, DC at the Gala Theatre on June 26, 2010.

The Latino DC History Project, a multi-year initiative documenting the Latino presence in the Washington, DC metro area, will share the unheard stories of Latinos in the institutions, culture, economy and daily life of the nation's capital. This project has roots in previous Smithsonian research on the local Latino community conducted by the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the Anacostia Community Museum, and is also connected to an ongoing Smithsonian research initiative on immigration and migration.

The first phase of this project, led by Dr. Elaine Peña (George Washington University), established the theoretical foundation and included research of the Latino community in the District of Columbia and a study of Washington, DC´s oldest Santería house temple. The second phase, led by Dr. Enrique Pumar (Catholic University of America), involves extensive research of the Latino presence in Northern Virginia, with a special interest in the history of Salvadoran and Bolivian communities.

The Latino DC History Project will produce an exhibition that connects to local, neighborhood-based exhibits and displays that feature the new collections and scholarship resulting from this project. A public program series about DC's Latino history began in 2010 and will continue until the exhibition closes, with plans to engage adults, youth, teachers and families in documenting their experiences and interpreting their community histories. For more information on the first phase of this project click here.


Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America's Past Revealed

Vessel depicting the god of fire, AD 900–1200, El Salvador, National Museum of the American Indian (24/7225)

National Museum of the American Indian
March 29, 2013-September 1, 2014

This exhibition illuminates Central America's diverse and dynamic ancestral heritage with a selection of more than 120 objects. For thousands of years, Central America has been home to vibrant civilizations, each with unique, sophisticated ways of life, value systems and arts. The ceramics these peoples left behind, combined with recent archaeological discoveries, help tell the stories of these dynamic cultures and their achievements. The exhibition examines seven regions representing distinct Central American cultural areas which are today part of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Curators have selected objects from the museum's collection of over 12,000 ceramic pieces from the region, augmenting them with significant examples of work in gold, jade, shell and stone. These objects span the period from 1000 BC to the present and illustrate the richness, complexity, and dynamic qualities of Central American civilizations that were connected to peoples in South America, Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean through social and trade networks that shared knowledge, technology, artworks, and systems of status and political organization.

Cerámica de los Ancestros emerged from the Central American Ceramics Research Project (CACRP), a Smithsonian Latino Center initiative from 2009-2012 to study and assess the National Museum of the American Indian's (NMAI) 12,000-piece Central American archeological ceramics collection, led by Dr. Alexander Benítez (George Mason University) and his research team.


Caribbean Indigenous Legacies Project

The Caribbean Indigenous Legacies Project explores the complex history and cultural imprint of the Native peoples of the Caribbean. In particular, this project focuses on the Taíno, the inhabitants of Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, who both greeted—then resisted—Columbus and his men during the first decades of Spanish colonization in the Americas.

This project tells the story of one of the most important cultural encounters in world history. It provides perspectives on indigenous civilization prior to European/African contact using the Smithsonian's rarely-displayed archeological collections, while it demonstrates the enduring indigenous presence on the region—from domestic architecture, agriculture and spirituality to art, language and biology.

This project has hosted two interdisciplinary workshops with scholars from across the Caribbean and the United States, and is currently conducting consultations with scholars, collectors, museums and the public in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the United States.

This is a collaborative project with the Smithsonian Latino Center, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Museum of Natural History. A future exhibition on indigenous legacy (to be accompanied by a publication and public program series) is being planned for the George Gustav-Heye Center in New York City (National Museum of the American Indian).


Smithsonian Latino Center Dominican Initiative

The Dominican Initiative is an effort to support documenting, researching, collecting and highlighting the experiences of Dominicans in the United States and the historical/cultural intersections between the United States and the Dominican Republic. Dominicans are the fifth largest Latino population in the United States and the history of their island has been profoundly marked by US foreign policy and U.S. military interventions, yet very little work has occurred at the Smithsonian to capture and interpret these stories. This initiative is a collaboration with the Smithsonian Latino Center, the Dominican Studies Institute, CUNY and other institutional partners in the United States and the Dominican Republic.


The Smithsonian Asian American/Latino Intersections Initiative

"So-called minorities, the Census Bureau projects, will constitute a majority of the nation's children under 18 by 2023 and of working-age Americans by 2039…Almost regardless of what you assume about future immigration, the country will be more Hispanic and Asian" ("In a Generation, Minorities May be the U.S. Majority," New York Times, August 13, 2008).

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Latino Center have launched the Smithsonian Asian Latino Project (SALP). Following the 2010-2015 Smithsonian Strategic Plan, the goal of SALP is to engage in activities that "upgrade research and collections activities with regard to Latino and Asian Pacific American communities, and the interactions and intersections of diverse ethnic and regional cultures in the United States." SALP explores how the American experience is animated by intersections between the two fastest-growing populations in the U.S.—Asians and Latinos—and how these communities share cultural lives and histories. After exploring this intersection through the lenses of music and activism with Joe Bataan: Afro-Filipino King of Latin Soul (October 19, 2012), SALP will offer three additional perspectives: a creative and scholarly symposium; a foodways program, and a visual and urban culture program. SALP is funded by grants from the Smithsonian Consortia for Understanding the American Experience and the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool.

 SLC director

Letter from SLC director
SLC Director’s Monthly Letter...
  Read the full story

Latino Art Now!

New LAN Website
Latino Art Now! Conference. November 7-9, 2013
  Read the full story