Washington, DC – Today, leaders from the Smithsonian Institution and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino previewed the Molina Family Latino Gallery with its first exhibition, “¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States.”
The Molina Family Latino Gallery, which is located within the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, opens to the public on Saturday, June 18. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino was chartered by Congress on December 27, 2020, and the gallery marks the first physical presence of the National Museum of the American Latino, offering exhibitions and programs leading up to the opening of the museum’s building.
“¡Buenos días! ¡Bienvenido! Thank you for coming to the Molina Family Latino Gallery, welcomed Julissa Marenco, Assistant Secretary for Communications and External Affairs and CMO for the Smithsonian Institution. “Today is a special and historic day for the Smithsonian and for American Latinos.”
“Today we celebrate this gallery, and soon we will experience an entire museum,” said Jorge Zamanillo, founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino. “As I’ve said before, the Latino experience is American history, and this important initiative ensures our rich Latino history will be preserved for future generations.”
The gallery’s creation and design was led by Eduardo Díaz, acting deputy director of the National Museum of the American Latino. At the preview, Díaz said, “History is backward looking, but we are on the forefront of sharing our rich tapestry, and the American Latino community is going to go so much further.”
Anthea Hartig, director of the National Museum of American History where the gallery is located, remarked, “Our museum tells the story of our nation, empowering people to create a just and compassionate future by exploring, preserving, and sharing the complexity of our past. And today, we welcome a new and necessary chapter to that story with the history of American Latinos.”
The five children of the late Dr. C. David and Mrs. Mary Molina collectively donated $10 million to support this gallery to honor their parents’ legacy of giving back to the community. Dr. Molina was a healthcare leader in California who founded the publicly traded Fortune 500 company Molina Healthcare.
“When I saw my father’s stethoscope, I choked up,” said John Molina, philanthropist and one of the Molina children, who saw the gallery for the first time today. “When he started out, he literally took care of people in our kitchen sink.” He continued, “We are proud to support this gallery and the new museum, and you will always have the support of the Molina family.”
According to the Smithsonian, “The 4,500-square-foot gallery…will present bilingual stories for multigenerational and cross-cultural audiences featuring multimedia, physical objects, and first-person voices.” The gallery is also one of the most accessible and inclusive of its kind, featuring exhibitions in English and Spanish, including 13 unique QR codes and cane-detectable edges and protrusions to access text in audio format. For more information, visit latino.si.edu.