Entertainment & Arts

Backers of national museum on Latino history call on Congress to act

Rep. Xavier Becerra

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), shown addressing reporters in Washington in July, is Gov. Jerry Brown’s pick to be the next state attorney general.

(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

A long-planned (and long-stalled) effort to build a national museum honoring the history of Latinos in the United States got a push on Capitol Hill from an advocacy group that is urging lawmakers to pass a bill that would put the project into motion.

Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino held an event on Capitol Hill  Wednesday that was attended by the museum’s biggest congressional supporter, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles).

Bills proposed in the House of Representatives and the Senate in March call for the museum to be created in the Smithsonian’s unused Arts and Industries Building in Washington. An earlier version of the legislation lapsed after failing to win passage in the previous congressional session.

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On Wednesday, Becerra said that the museum is looking for a home for “our history, for our culture, for our contributions to this country,” according to Associated Press. But he added that if “we’re going to be housed in the dark recesses of some storage container because there’s not enough room for all that, that’s not enough.”

Estimates of how much the museum will cost vary, though it is expected that the price tag will reach several hundred millions of dollars. By comparison, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, scheduled to open in 2015, has a price tag of $500 million, half of which is coming from the federal government.

The proposed legislation  wouldn’t commit the federal government to spending money on the museum, but it would put in motion a planning process for the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents.



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