UCLA Law professor Laura E. Gómez has been named to the scholarly advisory committee of the new Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino. The committee will provide input on the museum’s plans to preserve, document, display, interpret and promote knowledge of U.S. Latino history, art, and culture.
Professor Gómez, who holds the Rachel F. Moran Endowed Chair in Law and is a founding core faculty member of the law school’s Critical Race Studies program, is a renowned leader in pathbreaking scholarship promoting social justice. Her 2020 book Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism (The New Press) was featured on NPR’s list of the best books of the year. Her 2007 book Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race (NYU Press) was a landmark in the field.
“Latinos are one-fifth of the nation’s population, but we remain understudied and under-covered at institutions such as the Smithsonian, so I am excited to contribute my expertise and passion on Latinx equality and history,” says Gómez.
Gómez is one of three UCLA faculty appointed to the advisory committee. Leisy Ábrego and Floridalma Boj López, of UCLA’s Department of Chicana & Chicano Studies and Central American Studies, will serve alongside Gómez and 15 other esteemed academics from institutions across the country, including New York University, UT Austin, the University of Oregon, and Dartmouth College.
UCLA is the only school with more than one representative on the committee.
Legislation creating the National Museum of the American Latino at the Smithsonian passed Dec. 27, 2020. The Smithsonian recently announced that Jorge Zamanillo, executive director and chief executive officer of HistoryMiami, will be the director of the museum, beginning May 2, 2022.
According to the Smithsonian Institution, “The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino advances the representation, understanding and appreciation of Latino history and culture in the United States… (and) provides financial resources and collaborates with other museums to expand scholarly research, public programs, digital content, collections and more.”
While ground is yet to be broken on a dedicated site for the new museum, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has been selected to house the Molina Family Latino Gallery of the National Museum of the American Latino. That will serve as the Smithsonian’s first gallery dedicated to the Latino experience.