The Congress finally approved the creation of two new museums to be part of the Smithsonian collection: The National Museum of American Latino and the American Women’s History Museum.
The two museums were announced as a part of the $2.3 trillion year-end spending bill of the Congress. With the passage of the bill, the museums now have the go-ahead to hire staff, collect artefacts, and host exhibitions. Both museums would be located near the National Mall, where most of the Smithsonian museums are situated. The two museums will add to the existing 19 museums that are managed by Smithsonian, as well as 9 research centres and many other affiliated centres across the country.
Earlier this month, the motion for the creation of these two museums was blocked by a single vote by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah). While the supporters (including Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey) were hoping for a unanimous approval from the house for an expedited process, the single vote served as a roadblock. Nonetheless, Congress today cleared the last hurdle for the two museums.
Both projects have been in the pipeline for many years. The American Women’s History Museum project first started in 2016, when a bipartisan congress committee was created to study about it. In 2018, the initiative began by hiring curators and holding exhibitions.
The Latino museum has been a far longer struggle. Calls for its creation started after a 1994 report that highlighted the neglect of American Latino contribution in the collection of Smithsonian. This led to the creation of the Smithsonian Latino Centre which hired curators for Latinx arts and researchers for the same. Today, the labour of many years finally bore fruit.