El Museo del Barrio
Learn more about El Museo del Barrio
Founded in 1969 by a group of Puerto Rican artists, educators,community activists and civic leaders, El Museo del Barrio is located at the top of Museum Mile in New York City (USA), in East Harlem a neighborhood also called 'El Barrio' and is the only museum dedicated to the celebration of Puerto Rican, Latin American and Caribbean cultures.
The museum features an extensive collection of pre-Columbian and traditional artifacts, particularly a large permanent Taíno exhibit, as well as 20th century arts and crafts. About eighty percent (80%) of the permanent collection is art made by Puerto Ricans. There are often temporary exhibits on Puerto Rican and Latino modern art. The museum also sponsors numerous festivals and educational programs throughout the year.
 Evolving mission
Originally, the museum was a creation of the Nuyorican Movement and Civil Rights Movement, and primarily functioned as a neighborhood institution serving Puerto Ricans in East Harlem. With the increasing size of the Latino population throughout New York City, of which Puerto Ricans are still the majority, the scope of the museum has expanded, breeding conflict with some artists, scholars, and neighborhood activists anxious to preserve its original mission.
In the last decade the museum has seen a great growth in attendance figures, yet remains confined to one floor of its building, which it shares with several city institutions, including a school, and a few private organizations.
In recent years a plan was floated for the Museum of the City of New York, across the street from El Museo, to relocate to the historic Tweed Courthouse by City Hall in Lower Manhattan. El Museo would then have moved into the other museum's former building, dramatically expanding its available exhibition space. In the event, Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to site the new New York City Department of Education in the Tweed Courthouse instead, frustrating the efforts of both museums.
After the failed relocation, El Museo has opted to pursue a $15 million project to transform its outdoor courtyard into an open glass lobby, café and performance space, and to provide a suitable public "face" to the street on the model of the renovated Brooklyn Museum. The project will not, however, increase exhibition space, which remains at a premium.