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A new Smithsonian museum honoring Latinx history might soon open on the National Mall

The U.S. House of Representatives just passed a bill to create the museum.

Written by
Anna Rahmanan

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino is one step closer to becoming a reality. According to NPR, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this week that set the plans in motion. If passed into law, the Smithsonian will officially be able to "conduct an 18-month feasibility study and look for a place for the museum on the National Mall." 

Financially speaking, the new institution will be paid for by both the federal government and a slew of private investors. According to The Hill, the project might cost up to $700 million.

"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," Majority leader Steny Hoyer, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said to NPR.

This isn't the first time we're hearing about the museum. Back in 1994, a task force appointed by the institution noticed that Latinos had been "willfully neglected" and left out of exhibitions on display at the Smithsonian. The same task force then released a list of ten goals that could help reverse the imbalance, including an official museum dedicated entirely to the community.

Of course, the news is bolstered by conversations about immigration that the country is currently having. Just as in politics, not everyone agrees, with some arguing that a cultural destination dedicated to a specific people—especially given the hefty price tag—is not a necessity. 

As NPR notes: "While the bill attracted bipartisan support—it had 295 Republican and Democratic co-sponsors—the concept of a national museum honoring the country's Latinx community has been contested for years by both Democrats and Republicans." Said oppositions include an argument made by Rep. Jim Moran in 2011, as documented by the New York Times: "[I don't want to see] a situation where whites go to the original museum, African-Americans go to the African-American museum, Indians go to the Indian museum, Hispanics go to the Latino American museum. That's not America."

The last Smithsonian venue to land on the National Mall was the National Museum of African American History and Culture—the only cultural destination in the country entirely dedicated to the African American experience. Open since 2016, the establishment cost $540 million to build.

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