WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the most senior Hispanic in the U.S. Congress and Chairman of the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force, was joined today by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) in reintroducing legislation calling for the creation of a national Smithsonian Museum of the American Latino. The legislation seeks to adopt the same funding model used to build and operate the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and authorizes the Board of Regents to allocate future resources to the Smithsonian Institution for design, planning, and construction and operation of the Museum.

At a press conference earlier today on Capitol Hill, Sen. Menendez and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, author of the House companion bill, were joined by Congressional colleagues as well as New Jersey-born Actress Diane Guerrero, from Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, to announce this bicameral and bipartisan effort.


“The proud story of Latinos in the U.S. is an integral part of American history worth telling, and I can’t think of a better way for Congress to honor our nation’s rich multiculturalism than by passing this bill,” said Senator Menendez. “At a time of heightened fear and uncertainty for our nation’s Latino community, swift and long-overdue action on this legislation would help send a clear message that we refuse to turn our backs on them. This should be noncontroversial for anyone who understands that Latinos – almost 57 million Americans in the U.S., representing the nation’s largest racial or ethnic minority group – play an important part of our nation’s past, present, and future. I will continue fighting to make this museum a reality so that we acknowledge, as a government, that America's success would not be possible without the contributions of Hispanic Americans.”

“The history and culture of American Latinos are ingrained in the fabric of this great nation,” said Sen. Cornyn. “More than one third of the Texans I represent identify as Hispanic, and I’m proud to again join Sen. Menendez as we fight to honor their heritage with this first step for a museum.”

The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). It comes after the work of the bipartisan Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino, which was established by law on May 8, 2008, submitted its plan of action to the President and to Congress with in-depth analysis and recommendations. A museum of the American Latino would, for the first time on a national basis, officially acknowledge that the success of this country could not have been accomplished without the achievements of Hispanic Americans.

The creation of a Smithsonian American Latino museum has widespread support from the Latino community across the nation, and would tell all Americans the story of Hispanic Americans who have contributed to the political, social, cultural, and economic vitality of the United States since its founding. Key provisions of The Smithsonian American Latino Museum Act include:

  • Board of Trustees: Creates a 19 Member Board of Trustees to help plan and design the construction of the Museum, and; develop the Museum’s collections in order to showcase the life, art, history and culture of American Latinos and their contributions to the United States.
  • Funding: Adopts the same model used to build and operate the National Museum of African American History and Culture by authorizing the Board of Regents to utilize future appropriations for the cost of planning, construction and operation of the National Museum for the American Latino by establishing a cost sharing model between future appropriations and private fundraising.
  • Educational Grants and Scholarships: Establishes grants and educational programs for children and adults to learn about Latino life, art, history and culture.
  • Site Designation: Allows the Board of Trustees to explore several sites for either the new construction or development of the Museum.