Thursday, May 5, 2011

Panel Calls for Latino Museum on National Mall

Terra Networks: A federal commission is calling for a national museum devoted to American Latino history and culture to be built on a grassy site next to the Capitol as part of the Smithsonian Institution.

A copy of the commission's report obtained by The Associated Press says the museum would represent Latinos on the National Mall where their heritage has been absent.

"The mall, more than any other public space in our country does indeed tell the story of America, and yet that story is not complete," wrote commission chairman Henry R. Munoz III. "There must also be a living monument that recognizes that Latinos were here well before 1776 and that in this new century, the future is increasingly Latino, more than 50 million people and growing."

The commission recommends Congress provide half the cost of a $600 million museum. Private donations would cover the remainder. Still, the bipartisan commission's proposal comes at a time of federal budget constraints and as many groups want to add museums on the National Mall, including sites devoted to the histories of women, immigration, American Indians, African American and gays.

"Some might ask in these very difficult economic times how we can afford such an endeavor," Munoz wrote. "The real question is how can we afford not to."

Former President George W. Bush signed legislation establishing the Latino museum commission in 2008, and President Barack Obama, along with congressional leaders, appointed a 23-member commission. It includes Eva Longoria from TV's "Desperate Housewives," producer Emilio Estefan and others for their expertise in museums, fundraising and Latino culture.

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