New York, NY
El Museo del Barrio's mission is to present and preserve the art and culture of all Latin Americans in the United States. Through its extensive collections, varied exhibitions and publications, bilingual public programs, educational activities, festivals and special events, El Museo educates its diverse public in the richness of Caribbean and Latin American arts and cultural history and inspires the younger Latinx generation to discover this invaluable legacy. Founded in 1969 by artist and educator Raphael Montañez Ortiz and a coalition of Puerto Rican parents, educators, artists, and activists who noted that mainstream museums largely ignored Latinx artists, El Museo’s purpose is to be a center of learning that inspires the appreciation and understanding of the art and culture of Latinx people in the United States by giving primacy to the voices of our diasporic community. By introducing young people to this cultural heritage, El Museo creates the next generation of museum-goers, while satisfying the growing interest in Caribbean and Latin American art of a broad national and international audience. In fulfilling its mission and purpose, El Museo del Barrio has become a cornerstone of El Barrio, and thus an invaluable resource for New York City.
El Museo is the first and preeminent institution in the nation dedicated to the presentation and preservation of Puerto Rican, Latino, and Latin American and Caribbean art, serving as a bellwether for these communities so often underrepresented in artistic and cultural realms. A pioneer and model of cultural representation, bilingual museum education, and a community-centric approach in the United States, El Museo provides opportunities for families, students, teachers, and communities to learn about Latino, Caribbean, and Latin American cultures, traditions, and artistic production.
All of us, either personally or through our heritage, have confronted what it means to live and learn as immigrants, refugees, or displaced and dispersed people. Like other (im)migrants of color, Latinx individuals have experienced the consequence of second-class status through a history of discrimination, racism, inferior schooling, poor housing, inadequate healthcare, limited employment opportunities, and other obstacles. While the often-Eurocentric approach of many foundational art institutions does little to affirm Latinx identity, El Museo’s mission is to fulfill the ever-growing need to educate Latinos and non-Latinos alike on the enormous talents and skills that Latinx persons in the United States have contributed to our multicultural, multilingual, and multinational society through artistic and cultural production. Our role is to create experiences for our stakeholders and visitors that help them make sense of the world around them, integrating the lived experiences of our communities as part of our collaborative process. As Latinx communities continue to grow in the United States, it is imperative that the organizations that present and celebrate their cultures continue to function as a mirror of the values, histories, and perspectives that make these groups unique.