Every child, adult, or teenager who went through the public school system in LA county remembers their class field trips to the LA Museum of Natural History and the Getty Museum of Art, but very few schools make a point of sending students to the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA).
This establishment is a rather new addition to downtown Long Beach’s cultural landscape, for it opened its doors in 1996 as the first and, to this day, only museum in the country exclusively featuring modern and contemporary pieces created by Latin American artists.
From the beginning, this establishment was dedicated to its mission of “expanding knowledge and appreciation of modern and contemporary Latin American Art,” for the building itself is a product of the work of Mexican architect, Manuel Rosen. The walls of his creation house roughly 1,500 diverse pieces of art, including sculptures, paintings, photographs, and films surrounded by the outdoor sculpture gardens featuring designs in the bright color palate characteristic of Latin American pieces.
This tribute to the artistic contributions of the Latin American world is an excellent example of Southern California connecting to its cultural roots. Our history traces back to the settlement of Mexicans and Spanish on the Native Americans’ land. For decades, we tried to cover this fact, emphasizing only our European routes and creating connections to European cultures that did not exist previously. However, we are showing a change. While we still do very little to highlight our Native past, we are making a step toward acknowledging the value in our Mexican heritage, the heritage which we once discounted as that of “savages.”