One family’s tribute endows a national legacy

The Molina Family Latino Gallery, a planned 4,500 square foot gallery space of the Smithsonian Latino Center slated to open in 2021 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, was dedicated during a special a special ceremony at the museum on Thursday, December 6. The gallery was made possible by a $10 million gift to the Smithsonian Latino Center by five members of the Molina family, in memory of their father,  Dr. C. David Molina, a California healthcare leader who founded the publicly traded Fortune 500 company, Molina Healthcare Inc.

The new gallery will be the first dedicated exhibition space of the Latino Center, and represents an “important milestone for the Smithsonian and the nation,” Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton said during the event. “It will dramatically increase access to Latino content, from collection content to digitally immersive experiences and of course education activities” and will draw “from every corner of the Smithsonian.”

Artists rendering

Credit: Museum Environments/Branded Environments

“For over two decades the Latino Center [launched at the Smithsonian in 1997] and its curators have been an itinerant bunch,” said donor Dr. Mario Molina at the event, “and the Molina family felt that it was time for the Latino Gallery and its curators to have a permanent place, and for there to be a permanent place here on the Mall for Latinos to come and hear about their history, and for the American people to learn about the contributions of Latinos to American history and culture.”

Designed by Museum Environments/Branded Environments LLC, the new gallery will feature rotating exhibitions with multimedia activities, objects and first-person narratives complemented by participatory experiences and viewer-generated content.

Artists rendering

Credit: Museum Environments/Branded Environments

David Molina (1926-1996) developed Long Beach, California’s first Intensive Care Unit at Pacific Hospital in 1962, where he was director of the ICU and director of the emergency department. In 1985 Molina created Molina Medical Centers which became the largest Primary Care Case Management program contractor in the state. Under his tenure Molina Medical Centers grew to more than 105,000 members.

“It is a great privilege to make this gift in memory of our father,” Martha Molina Bernadett said on behalf of her siblings, Mario, John, Janet and Josephine. “His passion for helping others and entrepreneurial spirit helped build a legacy that we are all proud to contribute to today.

“Our parents were both teachers, before dad went back to school and became a physician,” she continued, “so we had the privilege of being raised in a house that was led by two elementary school teachers. They taught us that the most important things are character, valuing education, loyalty, giving back and telling stories to inspire others.”

Artists Rendering

Credit: Museum Environments/Branded Environments

“It is our honor and we are blessed to be able to make this lead donation, to bring others in and to create a space where people will be inspired by the contributions that Latinos have made to American history and will continue to make today and into the future.”

“We’re thrilled to finally be realizing the dream of having a Latino gallery at the Smithsonian, but recognize that our job continues outside of the museum’s walls,” added Smithsonian Latino Center Director Eduardo Díaz. “Latino history is American history, and we have a responsibility to reflect the stories and experiences of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. today. We’ll continue to do that not only through this future gallery, but also through our diverse programmatic, educational and professional development programs, as well as our work to unlock and increase access to Latino content across the Institution.”

The Molina Family Latino Gallery will be a space for audiences of all ages and backgrounds to find common ground, share intersecting experiences and present perspectives that are not bound by nationality. An introductory area will provide a framework for the history and concepts presented in the gallery’s rotating exhibitions. The planned inaugural exhibition, “Making Home: Latino Stories of Community and Belonging,” will examine the historical roots of Latino culture as it shaped the continent and the U.S.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to extend their visit by engaging with active learning programs, which will offer flexible education and public programming through a variety of activity types and immersive digital experiences. The Smithsonian Latino Center’s forthcoming mobile site will also provide access to audiences across the nation.

The gallery space is also made possible by Target, the first corporate founding donor to the Smithsonian Latino Center with a gift of $2 million. Target is a long-standing corporate donor to the Smithsonian with significant support given to arts and cultural initiatives.

Click this link for more information on the Smithsonian Latino Center.


Posted: 9 December 2018
About the Author:

John Barrat is the senior writer and editor for the Office of Communications and External Affairs. He has 25 years of experience publicizing research by Smithsonian scientists, from astrophysics to paleontology. He has contributed to numerous publications, including Inside Smithsonian Research, the Smithsonian News Service, Smithsonian Research Reports and Smithsonian Insider.