The U.S. House of Representatives Just Passed a Bill for the Smithsonian American Latino Museum
The National Mall may soon have a new edition.
A new Smithsonian museum honoring Latinx history could be a reality very soon.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Monday to create the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino, NPR reported. If the bill is voted into law, it will mean that the Smithsonian can begin planning for the new institution in Washington D.C.
Though it may seem surprising, the newest Smithsonian cultural museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, only opened four years ago in September 2016, so it stands to reason that a similar institution for American Latinos is not far away. The U.S. has always been considered a "melting pot," full of different cultures and people who have shaped the country, all with their own specific and rich stories that are weaved into American history as a whole.
"I look forward to the day when we can walk through the doors of the Smithsonian's newest museum and experience the full richness and diversity of Latino cultures and how they have helped to make America great," said majority leader Steny Hoyer, in a statement to NPR. Including Hoyer, there are 295 representatives that have sponsored this bill, NPR reported.
Hoyer also noted that the creation of this museum is particularly important because of the current debate on immigration, according to NPR.
If the bill passes, the Smithsonian can then start to find a location for the new museum, a survey that could take 18 months to complete. The museum will presumably be supported by both the federal government and private investors.
While the bill has bipartisan support, it could run into some problems before it is finally made into law. The idea has sparked debate amongst Republicans and Democrats alike, according to NPR. Some have argued that creating a museum just for the Latinx community could create some sort of cultural division, NPR reported, while others argue that it will actually help educated the community about the diverse history of the U.S.
"Our American history and identity is also Latino history and identity," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, according to NPR. "Through this history, the United States exists."
The museum's cost is also a major issue. The museum is estimated to cost $700 million, according to The Hill. The National Museum of African American History and Culture cost about $540 million, NPR reported.
If all goes well, the National Mall may have a brand new place to learn about this important facet of American history, even if it's still a few years away.