Puerto Rican Publics
From Amanda Guzman
Welcome back for the second to last time!
We continue our speaker series with Magdalena Mieri, Director of the Program in Latino History and Culture and Civic Engagement Projects at the National Museum of American History, a unit of the Smithsonian Institution.
She enters the class conversation as we begin to consider how we can bring together the lessons and work of this semester towards developing a community-engaged practice. Students have begun to index the previous speaker talks in this series by adding chapter divisions and descriptions to help make presentation content more accessible. The class also conducted a remote site visit this week, led by our community partner Jasmin Agosto, to learn about the Puerto Rican-related collections as well as current public programs at the Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library.
Honoring the pioneering collecting legacy of the late Smithsonian curator Marvette Perez (1961-2013) in narrating and displaying Puerto Rican culture on the national stage, Mieri provides an overview of several Puerto Rican collections housed today at the National Museum of American History. Along the way, she offers examples of diverse forms of cultural work from that of a curator to that of a conservator, noting that museums in their roles as cultural stewards are in a "forever business" to not only preserve historical materials but also to provide platforms for what she describes as a "material testimony".
This material testimony that emerges in connecting public audiences to museum collections takes on many forms from object out of storage public events (e.g., ¡Pleibol! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues) where audiences can directly engage with museum objects beyond a traditional exhibition display context to the Smithsonian learning lab where teachers can access curated digital pedagogical content related to collections material to music performances (including those happening right now for Jazz Appreciation Month!) and YouTube educational content about marginalized historical trailblazers.
Mieri concludes her presentation with a important, timely question for reflection, "How do you think the history and culture of Puerto Rico should be represented in the new National Museum of the American Latino?"
- Amanda Guzman
To learn more about Magdalena Mieri and her educational programming work:
· This is the National Museum of American History’s Latino hub, a good way to start learning about Latinx collections, past programs, and digital engagements: Latino History | National Museum of American History (si.edu)
· Here is the direct link to Latinas Talk Latinas series and their corresponding Learning Lab Collections: Latinas Talk Latinas | Latinas hablan de Latinas | National Museum of American History (si.edu) – note: you can see the video whose audio was played in the recording in full here.
· Here is the Vidal Collection object group: Teodoro Vidal Collection of Puerto Rican History | National Museum of American History (si.edu)
· And finally, here is a link to the Archives Center’s DivEdCo posters: Search results for: divedco, page 1 | Collections Search Center, Smithsonian Institution (si.edu)