Collecting Latinidad: A Conversation with Ariana Curtis

Ariana Curtis and Bernardo Rios talk and smile on a stage in front of an audience. There is a projection on the wall behind them
Ariana Curtis and Bernardo Rios, Collecting Latinidad: A Conversation with Ariana Curtis, Tang Teaching Museum, February 19, 2020, photo by Cindy Schultz

Join us on Wednesday, February 19, at 5:30 PM, for a conversation between Ariana Curtis, curator of Latinx Studies at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Bernardo Rios, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Skidmore. 

Dr. Curtis is responsible for collection and interpretation related to U.S. Latinx, U.S. Afro-Latinx, African American & Latinx, African Diaspora, and African American migrations to and engagement with Latin America. She and Rios will discuss her stewardship of Latinx-inclusive collections at the NMAAHC as well as the Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D.C. (a product of the 1960s Black museum movement). Their conversation will consider how the NMAAHC and a curator of Latinx studies reinterpret the traditional model of a museum as a repository for Eurocentric artifacts and narratives. They will also discuss the challenges and possibilities of growing and sharing a museum collection that celebrates both global Blackness and Latinidad as U.S culture.

The event is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by the Tang Teaching Museum and the Lucy Scribner Library, and supported by “The Stories our Collections Tell: Primary Sources at Skidmore College,” a project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  

About the Participants

Dr. Ariana A. Curtis is the first curator of Latinx Studies at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. In addition to conducting Latinx-centered public programming at the Anacostia Community Museum, she curated two bilingual exhibitions: Gateways/Portales, which received honorable mention in the 2017 Smithsonian Excellence in Exhibition Awards, and Bridging the Americas. She also organized Revisiting Our Black Mosaic, a full-day symposium about race and immigration in Washington, D.C. Ariana Curtis has appeared in national media outlets including LatinoUSA, The Root, and USA Today. She holds a doctorate in Anthropology with a concentration in race, gender, and social justice from American University, an MA in Public Anthropology from American University, and a BA from Duke University.

Dr. Bernardo Ramirez Rios is a product of a Mexican American Family from California with a rich history of community organizing and teaching. His father was a Professor of Anthropology and Chicano Studies at California State University, Sacramento, who worked closely with community organizers and the United Farm Workers Movement. His mother worked for many years at the only Native American University in California. Growing up, his family participated in grassroots developments and various other programs for disenfranchised community members. Dr. Rios’ commitment to community learning impacts his participation in student-based initiatives and professional working groups at the collegiate level. Dr. Rios offers cultural anthropology courses at all levels that include topics such as Visual Ethnography, Urban Anthropology, and Sports in the Americas.

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