Inside the El Museo del Barrio’s Spring Opening
El Museo del Barrio’s opening for Culture and the People, El Museo del Barrio, 1969–2019, in celebration of the Museum’s 50-year anniversary, drew over 500 guests including many artists from the community.
Focusing on the institution’s activist origins and pioneering role as a cultural and educational organization dedicated to presenting and preserving Latin American art and culture, the title is taken from an essay penned by one of the Museum’s founders and first director, Raphael Montañez Ortíz, who outlined his concept for the institution in a 1971 article published in Art in America.
El Museo Director Patrick Charpenel said, “This is a very, very special moment in the history of El Museo del Barrio. This is an institution that was founded by Puerto Ricans, by community people. This is a celebration because for 50 years, this has been a museum active in serving the community and promoting great cultural activities.” Special thanks were offered to board chair Maria Eugenia Maury and Chair Emeritus Tony Bechara — whose work is included in the exhibition — as well as newly appointed chief curator Rodrigo Moura.
Charpenel also noted, “The exhibition really shows not only great artworks, not only the vision of Puerto Rico, of Latin excellence, but also shows the increasing population of a great community.” Curator, Susanna V. Temkin continued, “We wanted to talk about the institutional narrative through these selected pieces. We’re addressing the concept of roots, thinking about the context in which El Museo was formed, thinking about our colonial inheritances for better and worse, as well as our indigenous legacies.”
“Viva Puerto Rico!” exclaimed Charpenel.
Guests included board members Claudia Marmolejo, Pedro Pedraza, and Yolanda Santos. Many of the artists included in the exhibition attended including Perla de Leon, Marcos Dimas, Nicolás Dumit-Estévez, Iliana Emilia García, Miguel Luciano, Hiram Maristany, and Arnaldo Morales. Other guests included Graciela Dauhajre, Anne Dayton, Thelma Golden, Amiris Perez, Pera de Leon, Verdery Roosevelt, Elizabeth Steinberg, Suzanne Vega and former director Juliàn Zugazagoitia.