Public Media Arts Hub

WATCH: Senators review plans for new national museums dedicated to Latino, women’s histories

The nation’s capital is home to nearly 20 Smithsonian museums and galleries, but there have been years-long efforts to create two additional institutions dedicated to telling the histories of Latinos and women in the U.S.

The proposed plans for the two new museums will be reviewed before a Senate committee Tuesday after, separately, receiving bipartisan support in the House of Representatives.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday, Nov. 17. Watch live in the player above.

In July, the House approved a bill that would authorize the creation of the National Museum of the American Latino, devoted to hundreds of years of Latino history, arts and culture. The idea began years before the bill reached the House. Back in 1994, a task force noted that the Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum complex in the world, “displays a pattern of willful neglect” toward the millions of Latinos in the U.S. In 2005, then-Sen. Mel Martínez, R-Fla., and then-Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., co-sponsored the National Museum of the American Latino Act with other advocates to create the first-ever national museum for American Latinos. Today, Latinos make up one-fifth of the U.S. population.

Months before a Latino history museum was approved by the House, lawmakers passed a bill for a women’s history museum. The bill’s lead sponsors, Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., and Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., call for the establishment of a Smithsonian Women’s History Museum on or near the National Mall. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, co-sponsored the companion bill that will be reviewed by the Senate on Tuesday.

Both museum proposals follow the model of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was 100 years in the making before opening in 2016. Lonnie Bunch, who oversaw the development of the historic museum preserving Black history and served as its first director, is now the 14th secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

Both proposals await Senate approval, and if they clear that hurdle, will reach the president’s desk.

The PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.

Support Canvas

Sustain our coverage of culture, arts and literature.

Send Us Your Ideas
+
Let us know what you'd like to see on ArtsCanvas. Your thoughts and opinions matter.