Heinrich, Luján Push For Latino, Women’s Smithsonian Museums

WASHINGTON (Nov. 23, 2021) – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) are part of a bipartisan group of senators requesting Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to reiterate the intent of congressionally approved legislation from last year that both the National Museum of the American Latino and Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum be located on or near the National Mall.

“The 116th Congress saw the passage of the creation of two new Smithsonian Museums into law… As we continue to move through this process, we want to take this opportunity to re-emphasize Congressional intent as stated in the authorizing legislation that both the National Museum of the American Latino and Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum be located on or near the National Mall, to the maximum extent practicable,”wrote the senators. 

The passing of this critically important legislation is the culmination of a decades-long process to create Smithsonian Museums that celebrate the historical, cultural, and economic contributions of women and Latinos throughout American history. 

The senators added, “With more than 25 million people visiting the National Mall each year, it comes as no surprise that many Smithsonian Institutions have claimed this area their home and best for the diffusion of knowledge. The addition of the two new museums on the Mall will further the Smithsonian’s mission by showcasing and highlighting the untold and overlooked contributions to our nation of both women and Latinos. It is fitting that these two museums be prominently located as that will help ensure that more visitors will be able to enjoy and learn from them.”

The letter, led by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), was also signed by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Michael Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), John Cornyn (D-Texas), Marco Rubio (D-Fla.), and Susan Collins (D-Maine). U.S. Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.-12) led an identical letter in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Read a copy of the letter below or by clicking here.

Dear Secretary Bunch:

The 116th Congress saw the passage of the creation of two new Smithsonian Museums into law. It comes with great excitement and comfort to have a partner at the helm who oversaw the creation of the extraordinary Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture that opened its doors in September 2016. Further, we applaud you for how quickly your team has begun to work to lay the foundation for both the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum and the National Museum of the American Latino. 

As we continue to move through this process, we want to take this opportunity to re-emphasize Congressional intent as stated in the authorizing legislation that both the National Museum of the American Latino and Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum be located on or near the National Mall, to the maximum extent practicable. From our perspective, the National Mall is the two-mile park from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, bounded on the north and south by Constitution and Independence Avenues. 

With more than 25 million people visiting the National Mall each year, it comes as no surprise that many Smithsonian Institutions have claimed this area their home and best for the diffusion of knowledge. The addition of the two new museums on the Mall will further the Smithsonian’s mission by showcasing and highlighting the untold and overlooked contributions to our nation of both women and Latinos. It is fitting that these two museums be prominently located as that will help ensure that more visitors will be able to enjoy and learn from them.

We appreciate your consideration of Congressional priorities as the Smithsonian works to establish these important museums. We look forward to working together and having a continued dialogue on how best to meet this intent. 

Sincerely,

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