During 1997 and 1998 the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History began a series of programs design to augment the Latino presence at the museum through the acquisition and presentation of a large collection from Puerto Rico, The Vidal Collection. This paper looks at the politics of creating a Latino presence at NMAH through the acquisition and presentation of a large Latino collection. Some of the issues to be explored are: how can a (national) Latino space and identity be created in a museum context, how is it contextualized (or re-contextualized) and represented, and what are the institutional ramifications of such initiatives?

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