Special Projects

MOLAA tells stories of Latin heritage through art and exhibits

Enclosed within the Museum of Latin American Art’s walls is a bright yet intimate experience just 3.8 miles away from campus.

Visitors of the museum can view the work of Latin artists and Latin American stories graced with drawings, paintings, sculptures and other installations.

A Carlos Dela-Diezpiece,  Physichromie is featured in the Geometric Abstraction at MOLAA.
A Carlos Dela-Diezpiece, Physichromie is featured in the Geometric Abstraction at MOLAA. Photo credit: Armando jacobo

Voted by Long Beach State students as the “Best place to get Cultured,” the Museum of Latin American Art is the only museum in the United States fully dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art.

“We had a student just recently that walked into our abstract art gallery, looked on the wall, and said ‘These works, they’re from Honduras,’ and that was the first time this student had seen a work of her own culture,” Alison Heney, Vice President of Learning & Public programs at MOLAA, said.

The museum provides an excellent chance for students to indulge in Latin art displays, learn more about the culture, take Instagramable pictures and get inspired.

A current exhibition is “Rethinking Essential” by Narsiso Martinez, a CSULB alumnus whose work is inspired by his own experience as a farm worker. Portraits of farm laborers are painted on discarded produce boxes, sparking impactful conversations on who is considered an “essential worker.”

CSULB alumnus Narcsiso Martinez's work is prominently featured in the Museum of Latin American Art.
CSULB alumnus Narcsiso Martinez's work is prominently featured in the Museum of Latin American Art. Photo credit: Armando jacobo

Besides exhibitions, MOLAA president and CEO Lourdes Ramos highlighted the educational, cultural and social programs the museum offers to the Long Beach community.

The museum’s recent Día De Los Muertos Festival allowed residents to celebrate the lives of their lost loved ones in the outdoor garden area of the museum.

The community celebrated Mexican pride and traditions through a Q&A with “Book of Life” film director and animator Jorge Gutierrez, Folklorico dancers, food and art vendors and music performances.

“We bring members who normally don’t have access to museums and arts into the program and they co-design a lot of our art workshops with their resources, which is incredible,” Heney said.

The Museum of Latin American Art celebrates Dia de los Muertos near the front entrance by placing a table of of loved ones that have passed.
The Museum of Latin American Art celebrates Dia de los Muertos near the front entrance by placing a table of of loved ones that have passed. Photo credit: Armando jacobo

MOLAA conducts programs with partners such as the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition to help diversify the stories and educational workshops surrounding the art and history of South America, Mexico and Afro-Latinx communities, as well as cross-cultural identities like the Philippines’ Spanish heritage.

The museum was recently awarded a $2.5 million operations grant from the Perenchio Foundation, which will sustain and improve many of the museum’s programs and events, Ramos said.

Internships are also available at MOLAA for students who want more hands-on experience working at a museum or volunteering. These opportunities don’t just pertain to art history but also areas of development, marketing, education and more.

“We love having curators, but there’s also so much more that goes into a museum and how it functions that applies some real-world skills that can carry across disciplines,” Heney said.

With the bright colored walls reflected in the smiles of the staff and artists, MOLAA proves itself to be the perfect place to be inspired by Latin culture, art and history.

The museum is located at 628 Alamitos Ave. in Long Beach and is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To visit, general admission is $15 and $10 for seniors and students with valid IDs.

Information on programs, workshops, current art exhibitions, online and community events, volunteer opportunities and internships can also be viewed at MOLAA’s website.

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