Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives Fact Sheet

In 1998, the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents established the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives, stating, “The Latino presence in the Americas is centuries old, culturally rich, and demographically vast and growing… The Center is dedicated to the generation of new knowledge…to the end that American history and culture may be understood and displayed in all its diversity.”

The center works to promote the diversity of American history and culture through exhibitions, collections and public programs.

Staff Director

Anna Cabral has been the director of the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives since July 2003. She is responsible for fulfilling the center’s mission of fostering understanding and appreciation of Latino history and culture using the vast resources of the Smithsonian’s collections, research and public programs, both in Washington and across the United States. Prior to coming to the Smithsonian, Cabral was president and CEO of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility in Washington. Prior to joining HACR, she worked in the U.S. Senate as the deputy staff director for the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, as well as executive staff director for the U.S. Senate Republican Conference Task Force on Hispanic Affairs.

National Board

The Center’s work is guided by the Smithsonian National Board for Latino Initiatives, which meets twice a year, and has a maximum of 25 members who each serve three-year terms. Henry R. Muñoz III, president and CEO of Kell Muñoz Inc. in San Antonio, Texas, is the chairman. Muñoz is also a member of the Smithsonian National Board.

Research and Scholarship

The center has collaborated with various Smithsonian museums and offices in recent years. Here is a sampling of recent projects:

Our Journeys/Our Stories: Portraits of Latino Achievement— This Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives supported exhibition presents compelling stories about 25 individuals who have made significant contributions to American life. After it closes at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington on April 25, the bilingual exhibition will travel to museums around the country through the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

Networking and Enhancing Biodiversity Leadership— The Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives and the National Zoo cooperated to fund U.S. Latino participation in professional international courses conducted by the Smithsonian Monitoring and Assessment of Biodiversity Program. The courses provide participants with the latest technologies and approaches to implement biodiversity monitoring and assessment programs.

A Closer Look at Santos— The Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives funded a project of the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education. This project continued work on santos (painted wood carvings of saints) that chronicle one of the oldest living traditions of Hispanic Americans.

Indigenous People in the Americas— The Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives supported, in cooperation with the National Museum of the American Indian, a continuation of the Latin American Leaders workshop “Ethnic Identity, Community Museums and Development Programs.” The workshop attracted 26 indigenous leaders from 21 different ethnic groups and 11 different Latin American countries.

Latino Virtual Gallery— This electronic environment enables visitors to explore and discover Latino contributions to the arts, culture, history and humanities.

El Rio Traveling Exhibition— The Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives worked in conjunction with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to develop this exhibit. The exhibit explores the relationship between the local cultures and the environment in the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo River Basin. The exhibition also explores the values, traditions and experiences of the people living in the region.