Vicki Ruiz

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino has established a scholarly advisory committee to guide the museum on important matters and provide input on the museum’s comprehensive plan to preserve, document, display/interpret and promote knowledge of U.S. Latino history, art and culture. Vicki L. Ruiz, UCI Distinguished Professor Emerita of history and Chicano/Latino studies, joins 17 other leaders from around the nation in service of the museum’s mission.

“I am honored and excited to serve on this inaugural committee,” said Ruiz, who has over three decades of scholarship, research and instruction in Latino/a history and received the 2014 National Humanities Medal. “The museum will provide an opportunity to tell compelling, diverse stories that have remained in the shadows of the American journey, some stretching back over 500 years.”

The 18 representatives hail from a variety of academic disciplines, such as architecture, anthropology, history and others. Together, they’ll review exhibitions and long-distance learning and digital-engagement initiatives. An inaugural meeting was held virtually to welcome recently announced museum director Jorge Zamanillo and introduce the members of the council. Initial priorities include laying the groundwork for museum’s collections, research and publishing vision.

For the past five years, Ruiz has been a member of the scholarly advisory committee for the Molina Family Latino Gallery, the first gallery dedicated to Latino history and culture in the National Museum of American History. The 4,500 square foot space will present bilingual narratives through material objects, digital displays and first-person accounts. Ruiz has reviewed drafts for the exhibit and offered suggestions for topics and biographies as well as historical and cultural objects. The first exhibition will open in June. According to Ruiz, it will provide a “preview of the ways in which Latino history is U.S. history and represents the Smithsonian’s initial step toward the larger museum.”


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