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Coming of Age with the Muses: Change in the Age of Multiculturalism

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Coming of Age with the Muses: Change in the Age of Multiculturalism

©1995 Susanna Torruella Leval, all rights reserved


Susana Torruella Leval is the former director of El Museo del Barrio and is the author of Luis Cruz Azaceta: The AIDS epidemic series. She served on the New York City mayor’s advisory panel on educational policy.


There is a great rumble in what in classical times was known as the land of the Hyperboreans, that "wondrous meeting place" shared by the Hyperboreans and their close neighbors, the Muses. In this land, according to Hesiod, the Greek poet, "the dance of the maidens swayed and the clear call of the lyre sounded..." The nine muses, daughters of Zeus and Memory, were, in Hesiod's words, " all of one mind, their hearts . . . set upon song and their spirit . . . free from care." The Muses, then, set the tone for the Temples of Art created in their name: grandiose, harmonious palaces, where time stops, troubles recede, and Beauty reigns supreme.

How far from these serene temples have our contemporary institutions of art evolved. Take, for example, the following blurb in the trendy Mirabella magazine, whose subject was one of today's most prestigious museums: Weekend late nights at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are some of the best parties to happen in New York in ages. Until 8:45 you can eat, drink, trawl the museum's vast book and gift shop, flirt (such a genteel cruising ground), enjoy free classical music and jazz, even look at great art. It's the ultimate culture mall -- a cross between a Brueghel hoe-down and Sunday in the Park with George.

How did it happen, this transformation from timeless temple to hopping culture mall, this major upheaval in the realm of the Muses? In contrast to the timeless bliss of their classical homeland, today's Muses are subjected to the pressures and problems of the real world. And to my mind this has been a positive development--one that began approximately 30 years ago. From then on, the Muses could not pretend to be ignorant about time, space, or real problems.

In order to be a viable contender for visitors' leisure time, every museum today -- large or small, rich or poor, urban or rural -- has had to come to grips with this transformation from temple of art to culture mall. In order to survive, museums today must be many things to many people: centers of scholarship, places of entertainment, temples of beauty, social service agencies, marketplaces, meeting places, places of diversity, places of calm, and, above all, places of socio-political controversy. For most museums, how they deal with these pressures and reinvent themselves for the 21st century will be crucial to their relevance, well-being, and, perhaps, their survival as well.

In the 20th century, U.S. museums set world standards for the excellence of their exhibitions and of their installation and conservation practices. But now museums in this country face new complex challenges. For those of us who work in the museum field, it is a time not just of self-analysis and reassessment, but also of revision in traditional exhibition and operating practices. In this paper I would like to consider how current trends towards "multiculturalism" add a particularly challenging factor to an already demanding time of change.

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Museums play a key role in human society because they both transmit and help determine social values. Even in their traditional role as repositories of the cultural treasures of the world, museums have wittingly or unwittingly presented a historical narrative -- in their collections, in the presentation of those collections, and in the omissions and gaps within those collections. The pyramids of Giza, the Ara Pacis Augusta, and the Arch of Constantine, familiar to students of Art History 101, are all partisan political works that carry values and serve particular causes. Why works of art were created -- to memorialize pharaohs, transmit democratic principles, celebrate military victories, edify (and terrify) the faithful, please a Pope, or, since the 19th century, break with established tradition -- have always constituted political facts at the core of the works' existence that are crucial to our understanding of them.

Yet, at some point, North American society, and perhaps all modern societies, lost touch with the awesome power of art to symbolize and champion values. Museums that failed to appreciate how their own practices contributed to the decontextualization of the object were responsible for this gap. The royal collections at the core of the great Western museums -- wildly varying assemblages of objects, amassed, as art historian Svetlana Alpers reminds us, purely for their visual interest -- provide ample historical precedent for decontextualizing objects for sensuous pleasure, political power, and social prestige. But this disregard for the social and political context of art may have reached its peak in the early 1960s. For instance, it was a blend of curiosity and entertainment value that led record-breaking crowds to flock to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Great Hall in New York to view Rembrandt's "Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer," primarily it seems because the museum had paid the unprecedented sum of $2.3 million to acquire it.

Over the last two decades, critical changes in the fields of art history and curatorial studies, however, have brought a new sense of accountability regarding writing and exhibition practices by writers and curators that seek to represent ethnic, racial, or cultural groups different from their own. In addition, instant global communication technologies have created a heightened awareness of the multi-layered complexity of world cultures and historical events. Both factors have influenced responsible museums to contextualize their exhibitions to the highest degree possible, making them more intelligible to the increasingly diverse audiences whom they hope to reach and helping to reconnect works of art with the values from which they emerged.

Indeed, as David Ross, Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, has pointed out, we are witnessing the "re-emergence of art as a symbolic battlefield." As socio-political life in the United States becomes increasingly polarized over issues of free speech, race, gender, and class, contemporary art and the cultural institutions presenting it increasingly find themselves at the center of overtly political discourse and even controversy. As a result, cultural institutions and their staffs are often called upon to articulate and account for the values expressed by the works they present.

"Culturally-specific" museums like New York City's El Museo del Barrio (barrio means neighborhood) have always had real-world battles to fight. The controversies of the last decade have simply added more such battles to their agenda. El Museo del Barrio, dedicated to preserving and showing Latino and Latin American art, and The Studio Museum in Harlem, devoted to African-American art, have in the past decade been euphemistically referred to as "minority", "ethnic", and most recently, "culturally-specific" museums. These designations often carry a negative connotation, and are usually attached to institutions that represent ethnic, racial, or cultural groups within the borders of the United States. Yet, the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, two ostensibly "ethnic" museums, are seldom recognized as such. Similarly, it would be unheard of, from the point of view of those who coined this terminology, to categorize the Uffizzi in Florence or the D'Orsay museum in Paris as "ethnic" museums.

Museums like El Museo del Barrio and The Studio Museum in Harlem came into being because there was an urgent need for them to represent particular cultural communities neglected by major museums like the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. These traditional institutions had not fulfilled that need because their early history was predicated on a romance with Europe -- a romance that largely continues to this day. Therefore, these great institutions, great as they are, set such narrow parameters for themselves, focusing so exclusively on Western European art, that they largely ignored, and often excluded, traditional art from the rest of the world. Particularly excluded from their collections and exhibitions were those cultural, racial, or ethnic groups whose work seemed most different and distant from the cherished West European canon. The justification that these traditional museums frequently used to exclude these works was that they were "not of museum quality", a phrase more often related to lack of familiarity than to lack of quality.

The work of contemporary artists similarly suffered from exclusion, as encyclopedic museums seldom included contemporary art; and "modern art" museums, created after MOMA's model, stopped at European-oriented modernism or, at best, with the Abstract Expressionists, their American descendants. During the late 1960s and early '70s, this exclusion led to the creation of a two-tiered contemporary art world -- and the coining of those now overused labels -- "mainstream" and "alternative." Within this time, it also led to the establishment of many "culturally-specific" museums and arts organizations, such as El Museo del Barrio and The Studio Museum in Harlem. The driving forces behind the founding of these institutions were precisely the specific, urgent needs of communities that had no voice or visible presence within the predominant cultural institutions in this country. These smaller institutions also shared a broader, more inclusive notion of culture, which Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano has eloquently described in his Days and Nights of Love and War: Culture did not end, for us, in the production and consumption of books, pictures, symphonies, films and plays. It did not even start there. By culture we understood the creation of a place of common discovery among people... We wanted to talk to people, to give them once again their voice. Culture is communication or it is nothing.

This unabashedly humanist, populist, often collaborative notion of culture, concerned with history and the world's real problems, has proved a more relevant model to the ethos of culturally specific institutions than the transcendental classical and modernist models which guide most traditional Western cultural institutions. This comprehensive model presupposes that art springs from an involvement in the world and its conflicts, and is, to some extent, created to be an instrument for change. In Latin America, for example, a powerful graphic arts movement, utilizing aesthetic forms such as posters, evolved out of the economic realities of scarce materials and space and the urgent need to disseminate political information quickly and effectively. The most vigorous, and best known, creative explosions of the early 20th century -- the great muralist and graphic arts movements of Mexico -- were the direct consequence of the 1922 proclamation by the Syndicate of Technical Workers, Painters, and Sculptors in Mexico City, of which Diego Rivera was a leader. The manifesto repudiated easel painting as aristocratic and advocated a national public art "valuable to the people."

El Museo del Barrio is heir to this tradition. The art it preserves and interprets documents an immigrant community's struggle for cultural parity. It also chronicles, over time, the transculturation process that the children and grandchildren of that founding community undergo: the rediscovery of their mother culture against the grain of a culture different from their own; the redefinition and expression of that root culture in a manner relevant to their contemporary lives; and the creative, adaptive process that inevitably leads to a new synthesis between the mother culture and the new one in which they live.

Immigrants new to this country, dazzled by the seemingly endless opportunities it offers compared to their native countries, often seek to transform themselves and reinvent their lifestyles to fit those they find here. Paralleling the sense of freedom that this reinvention brings, the cultural institutions founded to represent these immigrant communities have integrated a greater sense of flexibility and innovation into their organizational models. They are thus much freer to experiment in finding models to serve their changing communities and to alter quickly those that are ineffective. Unlike large, older institutions founded on encyclopedic or European models, these smaller, culturally specific institutions are not burdened by the weight of tradition. They can be attentive and responsive to the changes their artistic communities undergo, particularly in the contemporary arena. As such, they can also often act as an antenna and lighting rod for significant social change.

Culturally specific institutions, throughout their history, have trodden a fine line between affirmation and resistance. They have served as centers of affirmation, specialized learning, and scholarship and cultural activity -- in short, as places where the communities they represent can proudly experience the richness of their ancient cultures. Because of their embattled political origins, these institutions also have functioned as hubs of cultural activism and resistance. They have thus also played the role as advocates for chronically underrepresented communities. In the past five years, as pressures for abject conformity in the arts have gathered force with the rise of the religious right, this latter function has been especially important.

In these ways, culturally specific institutions have led the struggle to preserve cultural pluralism in the United States. If, indeed, the recently expressed desire for cultural diversity and exchange among U.S. museums is genuine, it is towards these institutions that they should look to as positive models for cultural interchange and affirmation. For, it has been the culturally specific institutions that have attempted to meet the needs of cultural, racial, and ethnic communities that have been chronically underrepresented in this country's major cultural institutions.

Such institutions have also been key leaders in nurturing and understanding the multiple, complex ethnic, religious and nationalist identities whose reassertion and "self-naming," to use Lucy Lippard's term, we have witnessed in the last decade. These identities are often clearly expressed in the cultural languages emerging among immigrant communities as they negotiate between the internal identity imprinted in their homeland and the emerging one forged within their new culture. Puerto Rican sociologist Juan Flores convincingly argues that the creative languages that emerge from the adaptive processes of migrating communities, "at intricate cultural and linguistic junctures, stand at the forefront of contemporary expressive possibilities."

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Against this broader context, El Museo del Barrio's mission becomes intelligible and highly relevant in 1995. It was founded 25 years ago because the Puerto Rican community in East Harlem felt invisible, isolated, and marginalized within the predominantly Anglo-European oriented society in which it lived. The founders -- educators, artists, and community activists -- felt that, as their children attended New York City public schools and lived their lives from day to day, they had no way of learning about, or seeing a reflection of, the rich ancient culture of their country of origin. El Museo del Barrio thus came to function as a repository of the material culture of a people. Equally important (and here again I recall that the Muses were the daughters of Memory), El Museo became a symbolic container of cultural memory, where the history of a people was kept alive. Today, with a broader mission, it continues to be a place of pride and self-discovery for the diverse peoples of Latin American descent who flock to this city and country. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, El Museo finds itself at a fascinating institutional juncture: utilizing certain traditional museum practices, which will signal its "coming of age" to the wider network of U.S. museums, while remaining true to the spirit of advocacy and accountability to the communities it serves, as envisioned in its founding mission. 

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How, then, are culturally specific museums like El Museo affected by the phenomenon of multiculturalism, the latest wave sweeping the cultural world?

At the most basic level, this country's incipient interest in its own cultural diversity has resulted in a great increase of requests for information from scholars and curators across the country as well as from many parts of the world. Many of these inquiries represent a cosmetic form of cultural affirmative action, such as when curators from traditional institutions ask for the names of Latino or other artists to ensure that their exhibitions are more racially and ethnically diverse. One such curator put it thus: "My [artists] lists are too white." The superficial, perfunctory nature of this type of effort often results in multicultural "quotas" superimposed upon exhibitions rather than in a genuine diversity that springs internally from an explored theme. These misconceived multicultural ventures have brought about a tremendous backlash, ranging from inconsequential, if venomous, protests against "political correctness," to the powerful dissident voices of serious contributors to the arts, such as theatre director Robert Brustein and writer/critic Robert Hughes, who, respectively, have termed the self-conscious multicultural enterprise "culture by coercion" and "the culture of complaint."

At more substantial levels, the surge of interest in Latin American and Latino art, as part of the multicultural swell of the last decade, has resulted in a large number of major, specialized exhibitions in museums across the country. These exhibitions have included Latino and Latin American artists in unprecedented numbers. This phenomenon, the so-called Latin American boom in the visual arts, has somewhat paralleled this country's earlier discovery of Latin American literature in the 1970s and '80s. Since the mid-1980s, these well-publicized exhibitions, which often toured nationally, have brought welcome exposure and critical attention to artists who had long deserved recognition. For most of these artists, exhibition opportunities had been restricted to "their" institutions -- El Museo del Barrio and The Americas Society (formerly Center for Inter-American Relations) in New York, The Mexican Museum in San Francisco, and The Mexican Fine Arts Center and Museum in Chicago, to name a few. Yet for many of these invited artists, part of the price of admission to these exhibitions was acquiescence to Anglo-Saxon notions of Latin American and Latino art. For example, the exhibition, Hispanic Art in the United States, organized at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston in l987, despite its broad-sweeping title, showed mostly Chicano and Mexican-American work that fell within clearly recognized Anglo-Saxon expectations of Latino art: that it be "colorful," "religious," "folkloric," or "primitive" (meaning "self-taught"). All "political" work, another common stereotype of Latin American and Latino art, was strangely omitted from this exhibition.

Another early show, Art of the Fantastic: Latin America: 1920-87 (Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1987), was motivated by a marketing campaign targeting a "hispanic" audience on the occasion of the Pan American Games in Indianapolis. The curators, forcing the parameters they had set, produced uncomfortable bedfellows: Joaquin Torres Garcia, a master constructivist from the school of Neo-Plasticism, shared the "fantastic" label with true fantasists like Tarsila do Amaral and Tilsa Tsuchiya. In a strange form of segregation, the Latin American contributors to the catalogue were grouped in the back of the book under the rubric "Another View."

Often, the artists and collaborators participating in these exhibitions came away from the experience with feelings of ambivalence or confusion about their participation or "collaboration." Although all welcomed the increased exposure they received, in time many came to question the curatorial premises or institutional motivations behind the shows. In particular, they were left with the uncomfortable feeling of having unwittingly become accomplices in the stereotyping of their fellow Latinos and Latin Americans or with the equally uncomfortable feeling of having been pawns in a larger institutional agenda of which they were only barely aware.

Equally problematic was the problem of "collaboration" such exhibitions posed for institutions dedicated to Latin American and Latino art. For, in the earliest exhibitions, the "collaborations" consisted merely of an all-Anglo curatorial team from the organizing institution scouring the Latin American/Latino institutions and probing their staffs for expertise, information, and visual resources. By the 1990s, the organizing museums had begun to seek these institutions' backing, usually in the form of a staff curator or director joining an "advisory" committee, giving the exhibition their stamp of approval. But their actual "advice," if sought, was seldom followed.

Independent curators, writers, and specialists in the Latin American/Latino field were also sought as collaborators in the form of general advisors or, often at the last minute, as catalogue essayists and editors. In the early years of the "boom," Latinos and Latin Americans formed part of the curatorial teams only in exhibitions organized by their own institutions, such as "Latin American Spirit: Art and Artists in the United States: 1920-70" at the Bronx Museum in l989. By the 1990s, as greater familiarity and collegial relations began to develop within the field, more diverse Latino/non-Latino teams emerged around narrower, more specialized exhibition and research topics. These conditions offered more genuinely fertile intellectual and aesthetic ground on which to meet.

The hugely ambitious scope and survey format of some exhibitions1 almost dictated a superficial or uneven overview of the topic. Yet the sheer power and vast resources of these major institutions enabled plentiful, hard-to-get loans of spectacular quality (London and Metropolitan Museum exhibitions), and the gathering of works from far-flung regions in Latin America (MOMA exhibition), also making these exhibitions extraordinarily useful introductions to the field for a fortunate general public. The motivations behind these shows represented a wide spectrum: from scholarship (London); to a well-timed, pre-NAFTA good-will gesture to Mexico (Metropolitan Museum); to a farewell gesture to one of the few remaining champions of Latin American art at MOMA, which involved little or no institutional commitment for the future.

Likewise the "collaborations" these exhibitions entailed offered an uneven range of options to Latin American specialists in this country: from none in the London show; to complex, conflictive negotiations with scholars and curators in Mexico, and last-minute offers to New York Latin American specialists as catalogue essayists in the Metropolitan Museum show; to active involvement with New York and Latin American specialists as essayists, editors, educators, and advisors in the MOMA show (although this involvement had no influence on the curatorial process).

The success and long-term benefits of the exhibitions in this "Latin American boom," like that of the "collaborations" they engendered, are still being passionately debated within the field. Yet if the "boom" of the multicultural decade brought limited or flawed collaborations between Latino and non-Latino curators in the major exhibitions cited above, from another perspective it witnessed the coming of age of the field as a whole in the United States. Undoubtedly, one of its long-term benefits was the opening up of an intense, internal debate regarding cultural identity in art and the different forms --Latin American, Latino, Mexican American, Chicano, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Caribbean -- it has taken in the United States. Also, partially in critical response to what they perceived as overly ambitious or flawed perspectives from the early "boom" exhibitions, specialists in the Latino and Latin American field -- either Latino themselves or non-Latinos who had been in the field previous to the "boom" -- began to collaborate in organizing smaller, more specialized exhibitions about topics of interest that developed from inside the field.

Two excellent solo exhibitions based on major Latin American figures, Wifredo Lam and His Contemporaries (Studio Museum in Harlem, 1992) and El Taller Torres Garcia: the School of the South and Its Legacy (University of Texas at Austin, 1992) brought the level of scholarship in the field to new heights, complemented by excellent publications and educational programs. Cuban and Chicano specialists within the Latin American field also distinguished themselves for the intensity of the research within their own artistic communities, producing excellent exhibitions of widely varying perspectives.2

A number of Latin American and Latino exhibitions organized within the field dealt with the powerful theme of the recovery of a native history through art. Reinforcing the self-defining, self-affirming impulse that arose in the late 1960s, these exhibitions attempted, in art historian Felipe Ehrenberg's words, "to define our hispanicism on our own terms." Cuban photographer Marucha eloquently expressed her aim in writing a history of Cuban photography, and in so doing captured the impetus behind these exhibitions: "the recovery of our image under the recreation of our own values, and the affirmation of a multinational identity in Latin America."3

Most recently, a series of fascinating exhibitions have placed the recovered Latin American historical identity in a global perspective, adding an international dimension to the cross-cultural dialogue. Curatorially, these shows offered thematic groupings, imaginative mappings of art and artists whose interrelations transcend cultural and geographic barriers and frontiers. Going beyond the internal dialogue, these exhibitions have placed Latin American and Latino artists in an exchange with artists from the rest of the world based on themes of universal interest: tensions between the regional and the international, the center and its peripheries, the hemispheric, and the global; and the power of these geographies: real, imagined, and internalized.4

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As the Latin American/Latino field looks towards the future, it has difficult challenges to meet if the multicultural activity of the last decade is to yield broader, enduring benefits. Institutions and individuals involved in the field, Latino and non-Latino alike, must together engage in a broad-ranging reassessment about their future collaboration. Out of this reassessment must come 1) a clearer definition of the different constructs around which exhibitions are organized, i.e. "Latin American," "Latino," "Chicano," "Cuban," Puerto Rican," and the meaning of these constructs in relation to their use in this country and in the country of origin involved; 2) a clearer sense of the institutional, curatorial, and artistic agendas (motivations, premises, objectives, consequences, mutual responsibilities) involved in future projects and an open discussion of where these agendas might conflict, intersect, or enhance one another before a "collaboration" is begun; and 3) a clearer idea of the audience the exhibition is targeting so that its didactic materials and contextualizing programs can better meet that audience's needs.

Ultimately, meeting these challenges cannot even be conceived of without mutual agreement upon a basic premise: namely, that the collaborators, whether institutions or individuals, will enter the working relation as equal partners, with mutual respect and responsibilities, despite differences in institutional size, budget, or past experience.

The obstacles to achieving this basic premise are considerable. On both sides, it will involve overcoming feelings of mistrust and frustration built up over the past decade by flawed "collaborations." For Latino and Latin American artists and specialists, it will also mean transcending their perception of the limited, even condescending, quality of the "multicultural initiatives" of most traditional cultural institutions to-date, such as showing "minority" exhibitions in the "community galleries" or "branch" museum in once-a-year slots (as in separate but not equal); designing and conducting "community" education programs separately from the programs that usually accompany major exhibitions; recognizing yearly cultural festivals, such as Hispanic Heritage Month, with minor programming gestures; and limiting the hiring of "minority" personnel to education departments, where they are usually assigned to design "community programs." Unfortunately, these past initiatives have generally resulted in cosmetic changes and gestures, in holding patterns that postpone rather than advance the more profound changes in attitude and hiring practices needed to bring about tangible and genuinely diverse partnerships within major institutions.

Another problem relates to increased competition for funding. As public and private funding for the arts has shrunk to a dangerous low in the past decade, intense competition for funding has exacerbated the fragile, conflicted collaborations in the Latin American/Latino field. Struggling, culturally-specific institutions and smaller museums dedicated to diverse programming 5 find themselves in the ironic position of competing for funds for "multicultural" projects -- the work they have done since they were founded -- with large, much wealthier institutions which are only now waking up to cover the "multi-cultural" territory they have long neglected. These large institutions, which often enter this territory in response to recently-available funding, win out easily in the competition for funds. Their impressive exhibition track records, large curatorial and education departments, and organizational infrastructures give funders confidence that they will produce a "quality," high-visibility product. Smaller institutions cannot compete with these giants, and thus must vie against each other for the "leftover" funds assigned for these new initiatives, for programs that they have had in place since their founding.

A further aggravating factor in the funding race is the need for smaller institutions to "market" themselves in order to achieve the high visibility needed to meet funders' criteria. The marketing concept is itself repugnant and largely irrelevant to Latin American and Latino arts professionals, who are used to functioning with limited, even survival-level resources, and whose priority has always been to assign whatever funds they have to urgent programming needs. This difference in priorities and the lack, in most Latino institutions, of an infrastructure that enables far-ranging marketing campaigns, also creates an uneven playing field when smaller, culturally-specific institutions must compete for funds with larger, established ones.

Beyond overcoming the tangible difficulties sketched above, profound changes in hiring practices must occur within major institutions in order to create an open, productive environment where multicultural partnerships and projects can flourish. Only genuinely diverse working teams that share equally in curatorial decision-making, exhibition planning, and audience education can produce enduring results relevant to contemporary society.

Finally, it is essential that culturally-specific institutions make an assessment of themselves as potential multicultural partners. In an effort to do so, the staff and board of El Museo del Barrio have asked themselves difficult questions in recent years: How sensitive are we to multicultural concerns and conflicts within our own programming, staff, board, community, and professional colleagues? How well do we know our audience and its needs? Is our audience the same as our "community"? If not, can we serve both? Can we serve both specialists and a general public that wishes an introduction to the field? Must we choose between them? If not, how must we prioritize our activities? In reaching out to our varied audiences, what models of communication are we using in our programs and publications? Are they relevant to our audiences? Are they working? Are we generating new models if they are not? The answers that emerge from this ongoing investigation must guide El Museo's programmatic and institutional agenda if it is to remain vital and relevant into the 21st century. The real-world accountability of the multicultural decade has forced the once-inaccessible Muses to come of age. So must all of us who believe and work in cultural institutions today.

November 1995



 

1. Art in Latin America: The Modern Era: 1820-1980, Hayward Gallery, South Bank Centre, London, 1989; Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1990; Latin American Artists of the Twentieth Century, Museum of Modern Art, New York, l993.

2. New Art from Cuba (SUNY Old Westbury, l985); Outside Cuba (Zimmerli Museum, 1985); The Nearest Edge of the World: Art and Cuba Now (Polarities, Inc, Brookline, MA, l990); Ceremony of Memory (San Francisco: Galeria de la Raza, l987); Adivina! Latino Chicago Expressions (Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Chicago, 1988); Rooted Visions: Mexican Art Today (MOCHA, New York, l988); Cara: Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation (UCLA, 1990); Ceremony of Spirit: Nature and Memory in Contemporary Latino Art (The Mexican Museum, San Francisco, 1993); Sources and Meanings: Art of the Other Mexico (Mexican Museum and Fine Arts Center, Chicago, 1994).

3. Some of these exhibitions that dealt with the recovery of history were: Ante America (Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango, Colombia, l992); Recovering Histories: Aspects of Contemporary Art in Chile Since 1982 (Center for Latino Art, Rutgers University, 1992); "Reclaiming History", "Recovering Popular Culture" and "Reaffirming Spirituality" (Three-part 25th Anniversary Exhibition, El Museo del Barrio, New York, l994). Within this category, many exhibitions were passionate responses of the Latin American/Latino artists to the quincentenary of the violent conquest of Latin America by Spain, which other communities commemorated as the quincentennial of its "discovery": Adios Columbus: Vistas Latinas (Hillwood Art Museum, Long Island University, l992); Americas (Santa Clara Monastery, Huelva, Spain, l992); Green Acres: Neo-Colonialism in the United States (Washington University, St Louis, l992), to cite a few.

4. A partial list of these exhibitions includes: Transcontinental: An Investigation of Reality, Verso, London and New York, 1990; Cartographies, Royal Gallery in Ottawa, 1994; Space of Time, Americas Society, l994; About Place: Recent Art of the Americas, Art Institute of Chicago, l995.

5. Such as The Alternative Museum, The New Museum, Exit Art and INTAR, to mention a few of the best known and longest standing in New York City.