By Gibran Villalobos

National Museum of Mexican Art exhibit.
Installation image of Surrounding Kahlo: Works from the Permanent Collection, March 5, 2022 – January 29, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Tropea. Courtesy of The National Museum of Mexican Art.

The Institute of Museums and Library Services is launching a new set of programs in conjunction with the establishment of the National Museum of the American Latino to support American Latino museums and the study of Latino art, culture, and history. IMLS is initiating a field outreach effort in partnership with the Urban Institute to address and learn from the field of Latino museums.

The results of this outreach effort will inform the design of these new programs for the distribution of approximately $4 million in grant funding and other related activities. At a time when museums are experiencing unprecedented change, this project will help address and capture snapshots of how Latino museums are working towards a more sustainable future. IMLS is committed to learning from institutions across the country how these changes reflect in their current work and how they will continue to influence the future of museums.

This outreach effort will consist of a survey and listening sessions held throughout the United States, reaching organizations in cities and rural communities. These sessions will engage stakeholders from museums and cultural centers to provide insight into the complexity of Latino museums and broaden the understanding of the American Latino experience. The outcomes will help build a robust foundation to enhance educational programming support, expand professional networks, and collaborate with Latino museum professionals.

“This work with Latino museums is a salient opportunity for IMLS to understand the needs and goals of these cultural institutions as we initiate new funding programs,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “The contributions these institutions make to preserving Latino history, art, and culture is invaluable to our society.”

In addition to the outreach effort with the Urban Institute, IMLS has established a partnership with the National Museum of the American Latino to build upon their years of existing work to expand the seminal Latino Museum Studies Program model to support emerging and established arts administrators in Latino museums or with expertise in Latin American cultural studies.

“Our new partnership with IMLS will ensure that the establishment of the National Latino Museum has a direct impact on other Latino museums across the country,” says Museum Director Jorge Zamanillo. “We look forward to expanding the reach and model of the LMSP program to strengthen the pipeline of professionals working in and leading Latino museums.”

The focus on expanding digital content, exhibition design, institutional advancement and other key areas of museum faculties is intentional. This strategy is aimed at creating a more diverse field while also integrating contemporary approaches to how museums will continue to evolve. Through these collaborative approaches, IMLS looks forward to providing relevant and impactful support to Latino museums and cultural centers to further understanding of Latino life and culture.