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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Smithsonian Cinco de Mayo

Today many people in the United States are celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Friends and families will get together for good food and music and celebrate Mexican culture in America. In addition to Cinco de Mayo, the Smithsonian Institution is also celebrating the creation of its Latino Center.

Latino Center Exhibit "Colombia at the Smithsonian"
by Donald Hurlbert, 2006 
The Smithsonian has had a long relationship with Latin America. Smithsonian scientists have conducted research in many Latin American countries and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center is located in Panama.  Across the Institution museums and research centers studied, preserved and exhibited Latin American culture, however until 1997 there was not a center that focused on the interests of Latino communities. On May 5, 1997, tenth Smithsonian Secretary I. Michael Heyman announced the establishment of a Center for Latino Initiatives at a press conference. The creation of the Center was approved by the Smithsonian's Board of Regents to coordinate Latino research and projects at the Smithsonian and foster understanding of contributions made by Latinos to history, society and culture through programs, exhibitions, collections, and public outreach.
In February 2006, the Center was renamed the Smithsonian Latino Center.  Today, the Center continues its mission through programs, exhibits, a website, and a virtual museum!

The Center’s pan-Institutional approach is similar to that of the Collections Search Center. Check out Latino Collections across the Smithsonian.

Courtney Esposito, Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives

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