Navideño: Three Kings and Nativities from El Museo’s Permanent Collection

This special exhibition will lead to and coincide with one of the most important popular traditions in many Puerto Rican and Latin American cultures, Three Kings Day, celebrated on January 6. Since 1978, El Museo del Barrio has commemorated Día de los Tres Reyes by organizing a community parade through East Harlem. This exhibition highlights some of the Three Kings and Nativity-related objects from El Museo’s permanent collection. A group of delicate wood-carvings by Puerto Rico’s santeros, depicting The Three Kings, are juxtaposed with Nativity scenes from various Latin American countries. Objects like these are typically displayed in the homes of those who celebrate the tradition, from December 6 to the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day. Accompanying these objects are traditional holiday posters by artists Antonio Maldonado and Lorenzo Homar. Also featured is a painting on the Three Kings theme by artist Scherezade García, introducing a contemporary version of this historic iconography.

This display is organized in honor of Carmen Ana and Joseph Unanue, friends and benefactors of El Museo del Barrio.

#CarvingThroughBorders | CultureStrike

CarvingThroughBorders emphasizes sharing skills and creating collaborative artistic work via oversize block prints that give life to migrants’ diverse experiences.

The project draws inspiration from historic graphic campaigns that shed light on the humanity of everyday people whose stories are too-often unseen and unheard. The works are a part of a collection of 13 oversized woodblock prints with pro‐migrant messaging commissioned by CultureStrike. Undocumented and documented artists from the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York and Florida were asked to illustrate various aspects of migration with a local, national or worldwide scope: detention, deportation, displacement, discrimination, exploitation, violence, youth, criminalization, legalization, and economic and ecological brutality wherever and however it occurs.

The first edition of prints was done with a steamroller on fabric by Master Printers from Syracuse University during the 42nd annual Southern Graphic Council Conference in San Francisco on March 29, 2014. The second edition of prints, shown here at El Museo Del Barrio, was printed on Sekishu paper at Favianna Rodriguez’s West Oakland studio by printmaster Nichol Markowitz.


CultureStrike works toward a society that recognizes and embraces migration and the migrant experience. We harness the power of culture to organize artists, writers and other culture makers to transform public views and sentiment around migration, and to fight for equity and full inclusion of migrants and their communities in the United States’ social fabric. For more on CultureStrike, visit the website, here.

Sarah Zapata: Siempre X

As part of its ongoing ARTE NUEVO series, El Museo del Barrio invites artists to propose unique, site-specific works for its large wall in El Café. In this case, sculptor and textile artist Sarah Zapata spent several weeks in Peru studying indigenous textile design and techniques, which she incorporated into this large work. The artist is interested in the intersection of popular and traditional cultures as well as in a mix of natural and fabricated materials. She has also been deeply inspired by ariplleras, hand-sewn narrative works that were made in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship and also throughout the guerilla occupation in Peru. Made almost exclusively by women, these were an important political tool, sometimes the only way that information about the violence and repression could be disseminated to other countries. The artist adapts these hand-made techniques and ideas to a monumental scale and incorporates plastic elements that are reminiscent of pop culture imagery.


“Office Hours (OH)” comprises a series of actions spread throughout El Museo del Barrio’s facilities, for which artist Nicolás Dumit Estévez invites the various departments of the organization to operate on a horizontal level within its own exhibition space. Estévez works with El Museo del Barrio’s employees to co-generate proposals for interventions, workshops, and celebrations, through which both staff and visitors can come together to experience the museum from each other’s perspectives and hence to re-shape its day-to-day as a collaborative endeavor.

“OH” brings face to face the concepts of creativity versus productivity, as El Museo del Barrio’s curators, administrators, guards, educators, operations personnel, finance employees, audiences, and artists are encouraged to work as play or to play as work – all of this as part of an the on-going performing of the day-to-day. “OH” conceives of El Museo as a holistic work of art; that is, a living artwork existing beyond the boundaries of the exhibition space and comingling with life.

An evolving project, OH currently encompasses the following actions: En Familia; Friends of Friends; Over the Table; El Museo as Classroom; Back in Five Minutes; and Creative Disruptions.

To see full project, please click here.

Voces y Visiones: Gran Caribe

Drawn from El Museo del Barrio’s wide-ranging permanent collection, this exhibition features works that explore the vast diversity and complexity of the Caribbean basin and contribute a dialogue to the exhibition, Caribbean: Crossroads of the World (June 12, 2012-January 8, 2013). In collaboration with Studio Museum in Harlem and Queens Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio will present its ground-breaking Caribbean exhibition, which explores the art, culture and history of the region from the time of the Haitian Revolution (c. 1791) to the present. This installation of permanent collection objects takes a narrative approach to some of the themes developed in the larger exhibition, exploring the connections between personal experiences and visual expressions. These artworks are a reflection of the human condition: movement from one place to another, creating epic narratives from personal stories, sharing one’s love for a lost homeland. As the title implies, the islands, the coastlines and the waters that unite them are all part of this study.

Gustavo Acosta (b. Havana, Cuba 1958); Juan Alindato (b. Ponce, Puerto Rico 1921; d. 2010); Alexandre Arrechea (b. Trinidad, Cuba 1970; lives in Madrid); Charles Biasiny-Rivera (b. Bronx, New York 1930; lives in New York); Angel Botello (b. Spain 1913; d. Puerto Rico 1986); Jonathan Brand (b. Bennington, Vermont 1933; lives in Bennington, Vermont); Roger Cabán (b. Isabela, Puerto Rico 1942; lives in New York); Humberto Calzada (b. Havana, Cuba 1944; lives in Florida); Rafael Collazo (b. San Juan, Puerto Rico 1943; d. New York 1990); Papo Colo (b. Puerta de Tierra, Puerto Rico 1947; lives in New York); Felipe Dante (b. New York 1934; lives in New York); Marcos Dimas (b. Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico 1943; lives in New York); Préfète Duffaut (b. Cyvadier, Haiti 1923; lives in Jacmel, Haiti); Edouard Duval Carrié (b. Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1954; lives in Miami); Aimée García Marrero (b. Limonar, Cuba 1972); Beatríz González (b. Bucaramanga, Colombia 1938; lives in Bogotá, Colombia); Asilia Guillén (b. Granada, Nicaragua 1887; d. 1964); Stephen F. Harmon (b. United States 1943); Anna Ruth Henriques (b. Kingston, Jamaica 1967; lives in New York); Cristina Hernández Botero (b. Bogotá, Colombia 1977; lives in New York); Miriam Hernández (b. Santurce, Puerto Rico 1947; lives in New York); Charles Juhasz-Alvarado (b. Philippines, 1965; lives in San Juan); Wifredo Lam (b. Sagúa la Grande, Cuba 1902; d. 1982); Magno Laracuente (b. Dominican Republic 1959); Guido Llinás (b. Pinar del Rio, Cuba 1923; d. Paris 2005); Christopher López (b. Bronx, New York 1984); Malika (b. Santurce, Puerto Rico 1968; lives in New York); Antonio Martorell (b. Santurce, Puerto Rico 1939; lives in Ponce and New York); Rossana Martinez
(b. Mayagüez, Puerto Rico 1969; lives in Puerto Rico); Ana Mendieta (b. Havana, Cuba 1948; d. New York 1985); Francisco Manuel Oller y Cestero (b. San Juan, Puerto Rico 1833; d. 1917); Carlos Osorio (b. Caguas, Puerto Rico 1927; d. Puerto Rico 1984); Pepón Osorio (b. Santurce, Puerto Rico 1955; lives in Philadelphia); Larry Racioppo (b. Brooklyn 1947; lives in Brooklyn); Carlos Raquel Rivera (b. Yauco, Puerto Rico 1923; d. San Juan, Puerto Rico 1999); Jaime Romano (b. San Juan, Puerto Rico 1942; lives in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico); Milton Rosa-Ortiz (b. Santurce, Puerto Rico 1967; lives in Brooklyn); José Rosa Castellanos (b. San Juan, Puerto Rico 1939); Federico Ruiz (b. Ponce, Puerto Rico 1952; lives in Medellín, Colombia); Baruj Salinas (b. Havana, Cuba 1938; lives in Barcelona); Emilio Sánchez (b. Camagüey, Cuba 1921; d. New York 1999); Marvin W. Schwartz (b. United States); Hilario Silva (b. Dominican Republic; lives in New York); Carmelo Sobrino (b. Manatí, Puerto Rico 1948; lives in Bayamón, Puerto Rico); José Angel Toirac (b. Guantánamo, Cuba 1966); Nitza Tufiño (b. México, D.F., Mexico 1949; lives in South Orange, New Jersey); Rafael Tufiño (b. Brooklyn, 1922; d. 2008); Gerard Valcin (b. Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1924; d. 1988); Pierre Joseph Valcin (b. Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1925; d. 2000); Manuel Vega (b. New York 1956); Julio Zadik (b. Guatemala 1916; d. 2002); and Jorge Zeno (b. Washington, DC 1956).

Voces y Visiones: Four Decades through El Museo’s Permanent Collection

As part of itsreopening on Saturday, October 17, 2009,El Museo del Barrio will unveil the Carmen Ana Unanue Galleries, the first space dedicated to the museum’s Permanent Collection, fulfilling one of the main objectives of its renovation campaign. The galleries will showcase, on a rotating basis, highlights from one of the oldest and most important collections of twentieth-century Caribbean, Latino, and Latin American art in the United States, along with related events and educational programs. The inaugural exhibition, Voces y Visiones: Four Decades Through El Museo’s Permanent Collection, made possible thanks to the generous support of American Express and the National Endowment of the Arts, will take viewers through a timeline of El Museo’s history in relation to the history of Latin American and Caribbean art in New York, the United States, and internationally.

The inaugural Voces y Visiones exhibition will include a rich and varied range of artworks and historical objects from the permanent collection ranging from Pre-Columbian Taíno works, to Santos and other devotional objects, prints and posters, and modern and contemporary art. Presented in three sections that will focus on milestones in the history of El Museo, Voces y Visiones encompasses more than 200 pieces of artwork documentation and memorabilia from a variety of mediums and cultures.

Juan Francisco Elso: Por América

Juan Francisco Elso, Caballo contra colibri [Horse against Hummingbird], 1988. Wood, paper, twigs, jute, wax, volcanic sand, earth, and iron. Collection of El Museo del Barrio, New York. Gift of Berezdivin Collection, San Juan Puerto Rico, 2021.

Juan Francisco Elso: Por América investigates the brief yet significant career of the late Cuban artist Juan Francisco Elso (1956-1988). Based in Havana, Elso was part of the first generation of artists born and educated in post-revolutionary Cuba, who gained international recognition in the early 1980’s. Created mostly using natural, organic materials, his sculptural practice examines the complex forms of contemporary Cuban, Caribbean, and Latin American identities, as inflected by the cultural influences of Indigenous traditions, Afro-Caribbean religious beliefs, as well as the traumas of colonial oppression. Elso’s commitment to such histories – which relate to El Museo del Barrio’s own foundational ethos – presage current post- and decolonial perspectives. The exhibition examines such legacies and parallels by placing Elso’s prescient work alongside a multigenerational group of artists active in the Caribbean, and throughout North, South, and Central America.

Presented through a contextual rather than monographic approach, Juan Francisco Elso: Por América is organized into several, interrelated thematic sections that explore vital crosscurrents between Elso’s art and the creative output of both close colleagues and others who, despite having not known him, demonstrate parallel affinities. Featuring 45 works by more than 30 artists, the exhibition includes Belkis Ayón; José Bedia; Ricardo Brey; Tania Bruguera; María Magdalena Campos-Pons; Luis Camnitzer; Los Carpinteros (Alexandre Arrechea, Marco Castillo, and Dagoberto Rodriguez); Albert Chong; Papo Colo (Francisco Colón Quintero); Jimmie Durham; Melvin Edwards; Scherezade García; Silvia Gruner; Karlo Andrei Ibarra; Graciela Iturbide; Magali Lara; Kcho (Alexis Leyva Machado); Glenn Ligon; Rogelio López Marin (GORY); Ana Mendieta; Senga Nengudi; Lorraine O’Grady; Gabriel Orozco; Marta María Pérez Bravo; Gustavo Pérez-Monzón; Ángel Ramírez; Michael Richards; Alison Saar; Leandro Soto; Renée Stout; Gerardo Suter; and Ruben Torres Llorca, as well as new commissions by Tiona Nekkia McClodden and Reynier Leyva Novo.

Following its presentation at El Museo del Barrio, Juan Francisco Elso: Por América will travel to Phoenix Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami. The show is accompanied by a publication, co-published by El Museo del Barrio, which will offer the first comprehensive bilingual study dedicated to the artist (available spring 2023).

Juan Francisco Elso: Por América is made possible thanks to major support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support provided by Tony Bechara; Ella Fontanals-Cisneros; Celso Gonzalez-Falla; Elizabeth Redleaf; Craig Robins; Steven and Judy Shank, John Thomson, and The Debra and Dennis Scholl Fund at The Miami Foundation. Commissions are made possible by VIA Art Fund and the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation. Publication support by Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund. Supported in part with public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the NYC Council.

Reynier Leyva Novo: Methuselah

El Museo del Barrio is pleased to present Reynier Leyva Novo: Methuselah. Conceived by the Cuban-born and Houston based artist Reynier Leyva Novo, the digital artwork virtually reproduces the 6000-mile transnational migratory journey of a single monarch butterfly, tracking its travel from southern Canada across the United States to Mexico. Embodied through the life of a virtual avatar, the epic journey is hosted and reproduced in real time on a specially designed, open-access, dedicated website. Commissioned by El Museo del Barrio with the support of VIA Art Fund, the in-person mixed-reality presentation at El Museo debuts in conjunction with the upcoming Fall exhibition, Juan Francisco Elso: Por América.

Methuselah debuted to the public on September 22, 2022, coinciding with the Fall equinox and the start of the monarch’s migration. Viewers can follow the virtual avatar 24 hours a day via a website, observing as the specimen makes its way south across changing terrain, weather patterns, and other variable physical conditions.

To see the journey live, visit For mobile viewing, download the free Apple IPhone app, here.


Working with butterfly experts, taxidermists, animators, computer modelers, and software designers for over a year, artist Novo translated the monarch butterfly from an analog specimen into a digital animation. Accessible online, the virtual avatar can be observed 24 hours a day during a one-year cycle as it flutters, flies, feeds, and rests with the ease and delicacy of a real insect. At any given time, the software program determines the butterfly’s movements in space, drawing upon numerous data points related to monarch migration patterns. No single observed motion is the same. This presentation offers viewers a privileged and unprecedented look at a day in the life of a single monarch butterfly, a phenomenon that until recently was impossible to observe or track.

The title of the work, Methuselah, refers to the fourth generation of monarchs in each annual cycle. Weighing less than one gram each, and living only two-to-six weeks, monarch butterflies take four generations of offspring to complete their annual migration. Born furthest North, the Methuselah generation lives longer than the other travelers born further south. With this extended life span, it is able to complete the epic transcontinental migration each year, allowing for its species’ survival.

In tracing the monarch’s flight across the Americas, Methuselah addresses larger contemporary issues related to migration, climate change, and the necessity of transnational cooperation, as expressed in the life of a singular specimen. Calling attention to the false security of borders, the artwork offers a critical metaphor for twenty-first-century existence, made all the more poignant by the monarch’s recent categorization as an endangered species.


Reynier Leyva Novo (b. 1983, Havana, Cuba, and based in Houston, Texas) is one of Cuba’s leading conceptual artists. Novo’s practice challenges ideology and symbols of power, challenging notions of an individual’s ability to affect change. His multidisciplinary practice includes mining historical data and official documents, the content of which he transforms into formally minimalist and conceptually charged sculptures and multimedia installations. Novo’s artwork has been presented at the Liverpool Biennial (2010), Venice Biennale (2011, 2017), Havana Biennial (2015, 2019), Shanghai Biennale (2018), Ghetto Biennale in Port-au-Prince, Haiti (2019), Aichi Triennial (2019), among others. His art is collected by international museums and arts institutions such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Bronx Museum of Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; Museo de Bellas Artes de Habana; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, among others.

Reynier Leyva Novo: Methuselah is commissioned by El Museo del Barrio through the generous support of VIA Art Fund. The project is presented in relation to El Museo del Barrio’s Fall 2022 exhibitions are possible thanks to major support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; Tony Bechara; Ella Fontanals-Cisneros; Celso Gonzalez-Falla; Elizabeth Redleaf; Craig Robins; Steven and Judy Shank, and John Thomson. Commissions are made possible by VIA Art Fund and the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation. Supported in part with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.


DOMESTICANX brings together seven intergenerational artists whose practices address the private sphere through works related to healing, spirituality, decoration, and the home. The show is inspired by the concept of “domesticana,” first theorized by artist, scholar, and critic Amalia Mesa-Bains in the 1990s. Proposed as a Chicana feminist response to the male-dominated “rasquachismo,” domesticana shifts the defiant and expressive inventiveness of rasquache culture to the specific experience of working-class women. Drawing from Mesa-Bains’s own acknowledgement that all “terminologies must remain porous, sensibilities never completely named, and categories shattered,” DOMESTICANX expands the artists’s original Chicana and feminist theory through the sense of contemporary Latinx intersectionality.

The show encompasses paintings, textiles, ceramics, and installation – including a reconceived artwork by Mesa-Bains, first presented at El Museo del Barrio in 1995 – and features works by veteran artists Mesa-Bains, Nitza Tufiño and Maria Brito, alongside the first museum presentations by emerging artists Amarise Carreras, Cielo Félix-Hernández, Joel Gaitan, and Misla. Representing different backgrounds, genders, and generations, the seven artists presented in DOMESTICANX reflect sustained and continuing responses to Mesa-Bains’ exhortation to “undo the wounds of patriarchy and colonization.”

DOMESTICANX is supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, as well as with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.

Raphael Montañez Ortiz — A Contextual Retrospective

El Museo del Barrio is pleased to present Raphael Montañez Ortiz: A Contextual Retrospective, the first large-scale exhibitionsince 1988 dedicated to the artist, activist, educator, and founder of El Museo del Barrio. Curated by El Museo’s chief curator, Rodrigo Moura, and guest curator Julieta González, the exhibition spans several decades of his production, from the 1950s to the early-2020s, in different media such as film, painting, photography, video installations, documents, and assemblages. This is the largest exhibition-to-date dedicated to the artist.

Raphael Montañez Ortiz is a central figure in U.S. Post-war art, whose pioneering practice began with trail-blazing experimental film works in 1957. In the 1960s, he was a key figure in the international Destruction Art movement, with performative actions that would result in powerful sculptures made from destroyed objects. His practice expands art historical references, from U.S. Abstract Expressionism and Dada to identity and his upbringing in a Puerto Rican family in New York. At the same time, his work was informed by an ongoing interest in psychoanalysis and anthropology, which resulted in his exploration of shamanic practices and the therapeutic and healing potential of art, parallel to his research into pre-Hispanic cultures. This is a constant concern that runs from the early destruction pieces such as the Archaeological Finds to his later performative actions and works addressing the Indigenous cultures of the Americas.

The exhibition is divided into four sections exploring the contributions of Montañez Ortiz to art of the 20th and 21st Centuries. These include Destruction, which focuses on his early films and assemblages and a large group of Archaeological Finds, with works from different American and European Museum collections seen together for the first time; Decolonization and Guerrilla Tactics, which addresses his Puerto Rican background and related activism, including his participation in the foundation of El Museo del Barrio and his engagement with other groups at the time, such as the Art Workers Coalition, the Guerrilla Art Action Group, the Taller Boricua, and the Judson Gallery; Ethnoaesthetics, referring to a term coined by him and dealing with forms of resistance to cultural ethnocentrism; and Physio-Psycho-Alchemy, which explores the core concept of his doctoral thesis and the works he made in this direction, where meditation, ritual, and breathing practices are at the center of a series of performative and participative works. In addition, the section presents his videos produced in the 1980s, where cutting and editing are employed to produce almost hypnotic effects.

Raphael Montañez Ortiz: A Contextual Retrospective is presented by Bank of America. Leadership support is provided by Tony Bechara. Major support is provided by the Terra Foundation, Andy Warhol Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Additional support is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA).