Why Did We Create Friends of the Museum of the American Latino?
We led a national campaign to create a Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino. Working with Congress and the White House for almost 20 years, we advanced legislation to authorize the building of a museum on the National Mall, which will preserve 500 years of U.S. Latino history and elevate Latino contributions to the art, culture, science, military, and more of America.
Raben launched Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino in 2004 to catalyze an effort to create a museum in our nation’s capital to educate, inspire, and encourage respect and understanding of the richness and diversity of the American Latino experience within the U.S. and its territories. By highlighting the contributions made by Latino icons, pioneers, and communities to the American way of life, we are all better able to understand what makes our nation great truly.
What We’ve Done and Where We Are Going
The legislation to create a 23-member Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino was signed into law by President George W. Bush and was enacted by President Barack Obama. The Commission submitted its final report on Cinco de Mayo — May 5, 2011.
After nearly two decades of advocacy, Congress passed the National Museum of the American Latino Act on December 27, 2020. Since its passage, the Smithsonian Institution has been working on laying the groundwork for the future opening of the museum. In 2022, the Smithsonian Board of Regents identified two optimal locations on the National Mall — the South Monument and Tidal Basin sites — for the future National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum. Unfortunately, the Smithsonian lacks the authority to build on those locations.
The National Museum of the American Latino must be built on our National Mall, which is why our job is not finished. To proceed with the planning and building of the Latino museum, we must spur Congress to grant the Smithsonian authorization to designate a location on the National Mall.