Anacostia Community Museum/Latinx Exhibit

The "Gateway/Portales" exhibit at Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum was a ground breaking Latinx exhibit by curator Ariana Curtis.The new exhibition explores the triumphs and struggles of Latinx migrants and immigrants through the lenses of rights and justice, representation and celebration.The exhibit explores what does it mean for Latinx migrants and immigrants to make a home in a U.S. city? Both struggle and triumph.

December 5, 2016 – January 7, 2018
Client: Anacostia Community Museum
Sq. Ft. 3600

Curator: Ariana Curtis 
Assistant Curator: Lola Ramirez


The museum exhibit is organized in three areas: Civil Rights and Social Justice, Creating Homes and Constructing Communities, and Festival as Community Empowerment. The design of the exhibit articulates this organization by having the visitor pass through three gateways built in the gallery space. community access and public festivals, this exhibition explores the experiences of Latino migrants and immigrants in four U.S. metro areas: Washington DC, Baltimore, MD; Charlotte, NC; and Raleigh-Durham, NC.

Design Concept: The organization of the gallery is based on the curator's outline of three themes and each of these as gateways (Portales) to community building. The design places three gateways created with a large printed curtain and decides the room adorned with a portal that is covered with iconography and key imagery. 


This is the first show to use the term Latinx. The gender-neutral term for Latina or Latino. 


Fully bilingual Exhibit 
The exhibit design found innovative methods of displaying English and Spanish without creating a hierarchy. It also employed the detachable text panels to manage the duplication of the text area. In this manner, we achieve a better balance between artifacts, images, and text in terms of wall space coverage.  

Co-Creation with Local Artist
At Museum Environments we consider artist as partners and co-creators of the exhibit design process. We believe that their participation authenticates the voice of the exhibit.

(Left) Rosalia Torres-Weiner produced  mural for the exhibit.(Center) Cornelio Campos is a self-trained painter from Cheran, Michoacan,Mexico who now resides in Durham, North Carolina. (Right) Artist Gabriela Lujan created a  Day of the Dead altar in the “Festival as Community Empowerment” section.

“Gateways” received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center. Related programs are funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Established in 1967, the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum focuses on examining the impact of contemporary social issues on urban communities. For more information, call (202) 633-4820; for tours, call (202) 633-4844. Website:

Bilingual audio testimonials were placed throughout the gallery. We employed off-the-shelf software to provide an affordable solution.