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View down a long corridor with white marble walls and red carpet, with display cases and tables on either side.

Hispanic Heritage Month in the Ground Floor Corridor of the White House’s East Wing.

Official White House Photo

  • Center Contributes to Hispanic Heritage Month Exhibition at the White House

    For National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, along with the National Museum of American History, contributed to an exhibition at the White House celebrating the cultures and achievements of Latinx communities in the United States.

    “During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize that Hispanic heritage is American heritage,” President Joseph Biden stated in a proclamation at the beginning of the month, which is celebrated annually from September 15 to October 15. “We see it in every aspect of our national life: on our television and movie screens, in the music that moves our feet, and in the foods we enjoy.”

    The temporary exhibit, on view in the Ground Floor Corridor of the East Wing, includes objects, photographs, and artwork from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Our items are arranged into small, themed displays centering on Ceremonies and Festivals, Textiles, Artists and Artisans, Music, and Spirituality.

    Ceremonies and Festivals features a Matachines dance skirt made with river reeds from Laredo, Texas, and a dance wand from Bernalillo, New Mexico—both used in a Catholic tradition of devotion to the Holy Cross celebrated across the American Southwest and featured at the 1987 Folklife Festival. Across the corridor in the Spirituality display stands is a large, sequin-embellished portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico and the Americas, along with a portable altar to carry San Lorenzo through the streets of Bernalillo. The Music display includes a Puerto Rican hand drum, album art from Folkways’ Tradiciones / Traditions series, and a GRAMMY Award for Los Texmaniacs. A QR code directs visitors to a playlist of American Latino artists awarded National Heritage Fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is also available on the Folkways website.

    A display case containing a golden GRAMMY Award, collage of album artwork, and a hand drum. Two text cards are too small to read.
    The Music display includes Smithsonian Folkways album art and a GRAMMY Award.
    Official White House Photo
    A display case containing artwork, photos, and two cans of spraypaint.
    D.C. graffiti artist and Folklife Festival alumni MasPaz is featured in the Artists and Artisans display.
    Official White House Photo
    A display case containing a yellow woven scarf and a multicolored Peruvian weaving still on the loom.
    The Textiles display case contains examples of Zapotec and Peruvian traditional weaving.
    Official White House Photo
    A display on a table and easel, set against a white marble wall and below a painted portrait of a woman. On the table are various small altar objects. To the left, on an easel, is a portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
    The Virgin of Guadalupe, on the left, and other religious icons join a portrait of First Lady Rosalynn Carter.
    Official White House Photo
    A white sign on a stand reads: Hispanic Heritage Month 2021. In Partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, The White House presents an exhibit celebrating the cultures and contributions of the hispanic community.
    Official White House Photo

    “It’s an honor to share the staggering creativity of artisans and musicians who have so enriched the Smithsonian Folklife Festival,” says Sabrina Lynn Motley, Festival director. “We hope that White House visitors and staff are inspired by these diverse expressions of culture, identity, and pride found in Latinx communities.”

    On September 30, the exhibition was featured in a short news story from Telemundo’s hoyDía (in Spanish).

    While public tours of the White House have been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, residence staff and visiting dignitaries can enjoy a glimpse into the richness of American Latinx communities and the wide-ranging work of the Center.

  • Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Cultural Vitality Program, educational outreach, and more.