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Behind the Scenes

Color photo of large green screen behind woman seated on stool in front black professional camera

What does it take to build the Smithsonian's first museum space dedicated to celebrating Latino history and culture? 

The Molina Family Latino Gallery is now open at the National Museum of American History. Take a look behind the scenes at the new gallery space, contemporary artworks, and Latino storytellers.

Under Construction

This timelapse footage of the Latino Gallery captures moments from construction to the final result ready for opening. Watch the timelapse to see how the gallery has changed from November 2021 to February 2022. 

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Captured by SI Digital Studios for the National Museum of the American Latino 2021-2022
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Shaping the Tree of Life

We commissioned renowned, third-generation ceramic artist Verónica Castillo to create a Tree of Life (or Árbol de la Vida) for ¡Presente! These clay sculptures are traditionally religious in theme, but Castillo’s works are unique. They depict social injustices and people’s everyday lives. For this exhibit, Castillo is creating a Tree of Life that recreates some of the themes featured in ¡Presente!

See the clay speak to Castillo as her tree about Latinas and Latinos in the United States comes to life. 

Color photo of woman in art studio smiling, showing viewer a sketchbook with black line drawing
Al Rendon, 2021. National Museum of the American Latino
Color photo of woman in art studio attaching large clay loop to larger clay piece on table
Al Rendon, 2021. National Museum of the American Latino
Color photo of woman in art studio standing, attaching large clay loop to larger clay piece
Al Rendon, 2021. National Museum of the American Latino
Color photo of woman in art studio standing in front of large clay piece, holding large clay loop
Al Rendon, 2021. National Museum of the American Latino
Color photo of woman in art studio standing beside and touching clay sculpture her height
Al Rendon, 2021. National Museum of the American Latino
Color photo of two women in art studio; one sits at table, other stands painting tall clay sculpture
Al Rendon, 2021. National Museum of the American Latino

Bringing Stories to Life

The center of the Molina Family Latino Gallery has been named the Foro for its plaza-like design, which lends itself to communal interactions between individuals and small groups. Eight media interactive digital storyteller totems are situated throughout the Foro, where visitors will be able to interact with a variety of contemporary first-person oral histories. Take a look at images taken behind the scenes while filming Foro storytellers Dr. Mario Molina and Maria Hinojosa.  

Color photo of large green screen behind man seated on stool in front large professional camera
Dr. Mario Molina on set in Los Angeles, California, 2021, National Museum of the American Latino
Color photo of large green screen behind woman seated on stool in front black professional camera
Maria Hinojosa shares her experiences on camera, 2021, National Museum of the American Latino
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