The Smithsonian has received a $10 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support the design, development and construction of the National Museum of the American Latino. The grant will also support the development and implementation of strategies for highlighting the role of religion in Latino history and culture through the museum’s collections, exhibitions and public programming.
“Understanding how faith and spirituality have shaped Latino history helps us understand Latino life today,” said Jorge Zamanillo, director of the museum. “Lilly Endowment’s generous gift will ensure that the Latino Museum can explore and weave spiritual heritage into its public programs and exhibitions.”
The grant from Lilly Endowment represents another important step in the Smithsonian’s fundraising campaign for the new museum. As it builds momentum toward a future groundbreaking, the museum has already launched its first exhibition, “¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States,” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. “Presente” includes ceremonial and religious objects connected to African, European and Indigenous spiritual traditions that have had enduring effects on Latino communities. The study of faith and spirituality provides a framework for comprehending the culture, identity and interconnections of diverse Latino communities and their relationships with other faith communities.
“We are grateful for Lilly Endowment’s enduring commitment to the Smithsonian and this historic undertaking,” said Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian. “This gift will help amplify Latino voices and contributions for generations to come while adding a new layer to the Smithsonian’s scholarly work in understanding the ways religion has shaped humanity.”
Lilly Endowment supports other programs and exhibitions that explore the role of religion in public life in several Smithsonian museums and centers, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Museum of American History, National Museum of Asian Art, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, National Museum of African Art and National Museum of the American Indian.
“The Smithsonian plays a pivotal role in helping individuals and families understand and celebrate the many diverse stories that come together to form the rich tapestry of our country’s history and culture,” said N. Clay Robbins, chairman and CEO of Lilly Endowment Inc. “We are pleased to help support the development of the National Museum of the American Latino and strengthen its efforts to inform visitors about how religious traditions have shaped and continue to influence Latino history and culture. This grant complements Lilly Endowment’s wider efforts to support museums in fostering greater knowledge of and appreciation for the diverse religious beliefs, practices and perspectives of their neighbors and others in communities around the world.”
About the National Museum of the American Latino
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino was established by Congress in 2020 to advance the representation, understanding and appreciation of Latino history and culture in the United States. The museum operates the Smithsonian’s first exhibition space dedicated to the Latino experience, the Molina Family Latino Gallery, at the National Museum of American History. The museum is expected to open a building of its own in approximately 10 to 12 years. The American Latino Museum also expands scholarly research, public programs, digital content, collections and more. Connect with the museum at latino.si.edu and follow @USLatinoMuseum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. Although the Endowment maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana, it also funds programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. While the primary aim of its religion grantmaking focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States, the Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and diverse religious communities make to greater civic well-being.
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