April 23, 2018

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the only organization representing the entire scope of the museum community, today announced that the Smithsonian Latino Center is the recipient of its Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion (DEAI) award for institutions. The award will be presented during the general session at the AAM 2018 Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo in Phoenix May 7.

“The leadership, influence and tangible results produced by the Smithsonian Latino Center in just 20 years since its founding has been nothing short of remarkable,” said Laura Lott, president and CEO of the Alliance. “Making real change in the area of diversity and inclusion requires a focused strategy and tireless work by the staff and trustees that goes far beyond the four walls of any institution. By effectively weaving a Latino presence throughout the Smithsonian and partner museums, the people, exhibits and programming of dozens of institutions have become far more inclusive than ever before.”

The Smithsonian Latino Center (SLC) has developed numerous innovative programs that have encouraged, mentored, and facilitated an expansion of Latino staff members and the presentation of Latino culture across the Smithsonian. Some examples include:

  • a Latino Curatorial Initiative that has aided 10 different Smithsonian units in recruiting the finest Latino scholars in the museum field
  • a Latino Museum Studies Program that has helped more than 300 Latino students to be exposed and nurtured into the museum field
  • a Latino Initiatives pool that manages and distributes federal funds in support of new and dynamic programs featuring Latino history and culture

“In the four years I have worked for the National Museum of American History (NMAH), I have mentored over 25 students and fellows of color who are not used to seeing someone like them in a position of influence,” said Margaret Salazar-Porzio, curator of Latina/o History and Culture at NMAH, who was hired four years ago as part of the Latino curatorial initiative. “I have given tours and lectures to countless middle school, high school, and undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds who will consider careers in museums because I am like them.”

“Since the inception of the Latino Curatorial Initiative in 2010, the Latino Center has empowered a new generation of museum curators and leaders,” said SLC Director Eduardo Díaz. “Seeing the measurable uptick in research, exhibitions, collections, public and educational programs, digital content and publications about the Latino experience at the Smithsonian is exhilarating, and testimony to the power of First Voice representation in the museum field. We are so grateful to be recognized for this hard work by AAM, and proud that diversity and inclusion has become a priority of our museum community.”

“The Smithsonian Latino Center’s work has had an enormous impact on bringing to the fore the accomplishments of Latinx artists, scholars and communities to transform America,” said Kim Sajet, director of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. “It is a leading example of a small program that has had a very large and national impact.”

The Alliance strategic plan emphasizes DEAI in all aspects of museum structure and programming—in their exhibitions and programs, in their staff and boards, and most importantly in the communities they serve.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.