El Museo del Barrio

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Photographs: Collection of El Museo del Barrio

On Saturday 17, El Museo del Barrio (1230 Fifth Ave at 104th St; 212-831-7272, elmuseo.org; $6, seniors and students $4, members and children under 12 free) will celebrate its 40th anniversary by opening its doors to the public, having closed them in May 2008 to complete the first phase of a $35 million renovation. The improvements—which are intended to create a more attractive and inviting space—include a redesigned entrance, featuring a glass facade and an airy, 4,500-square-foot courtyard, as well as a new caf. For museum director Julian Zugazagoitia, it was “fortuitous and extraordinary” that the renovation’s completion coincided with this anniversary. “I am happy that it happened that way, because turning 40 symbolizes coming to maturity,” he says.

To celebrate, El Museo will host a daylong open house on Saturday (11am--9pm, free), with live salsa music, neighborhood walking tours and a preview of CNN journalist Soledad O’Brien’s documentary Latino in America. The museum will also unveil two new exhibits: One, “Voces Y Visiones” features pieces culled from its permanent collection. “We wanted to tell the history of El Barrio and the institution through its works,” says Zugazagoitia. The other, “Nexus New York,” also has a historical angle: It examines how collaborations between U.S.-born and Latin American artists helped shape modern art movements. El Museo considers paying homage to both New York and Latino artists part of its mission; says Zugazagoitia, “We are a New York institution celebrating Latino art.”—Monika Fabian

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