El Museo was founded more than 50 years ago by artist and educator Raphael Montañez Ortiz and a coalition of Puerto Rican parents, educators, artists, and activists who noted that mainstream museums largely ignored Latino artists. Since its inception, El Museo has been committed to celebrating and promoting Latino culture, thus becoming a cornerstone of El Barrio, and a valuable resource for New York City. El Museo’s varied permanent collection of over 8,000 objects, spans more than 800 years of Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino art, includes pre-Columbian Taíno artifacts, traditional arts, twentieth-century drawings, paintings, sculptures and installations, as well as prints, photography, documentary films, and video. For a brief overview of our history and to explore the institutional chronology and exhibition history year by year, click here.
El Museo del Barrio’s purpose is to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret the art and artifacts of Caribbean and Latin American cultures for posterity.
To enhance the sense of identity, self-esteem and self-knowledge of the Caribbean and Latin American peoples by educating them in their artistic heritage and bringing art and artists into their communities.
To provide an educational forum that promotes an appreciation and understanding of Caribbean and Latin American art and culture and its rich contribution to North America.
To offer Caribbean and Latin American artists greater access to institutional support in the national and international art world.
To convert young people of Caribbean and Latin American descent into the next generation of museum-goers, stakeholders in the institution created for them.
To fulfill our special responsibility as a center of learning and training ground for the growing numbers of artists, educators, art historians, and museum professionals interested in Caribbean and Latin American art.
This mission reaffirms the vision of Raphael Montañez Ortiz, who founded El Museo del Barrio in 1969, and of the Puerto Rican educators, artists, and community activists who worked in support of this goal.