Celebrating Hispanic history, art, and culture, El Museo Latino in South Omaha is one of the country’s largest Hispanic museums. Located in the former Polish Home, the museum opened in 1993. Founded by Magdalena “Maggie” Garcia, the museum quickly became a stalwart in the Hispanic community.
With educational and dance programs that incorporate Hispanics’ culture and history, El Museo Latino seeks to help educate people and expand Hispanic art around Omaha. It also hosts programs throughout the year to help raise money for the Midwest’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration, which is usually held the first weekend of May.
Here are a few things to know when visiting El Museo Latino.
Covid-19 alert: Before visiting, please check El Museo Latino’s website or Facebook page for requirements or restrictions.
1. Museum history
When it opened in 1993, El Museo Latino was the first Hispanic art and history museum in the Midwest. Today, it’s one of only 17 in the United States.
It was originally located at the Livestock Exchange Building, near the former Omaha Stockyards. With only 3,000 square feet to work with, El Museo Latino had limited space for its exhibits and classes.
In 1997, the museum was moved to the former Polish Home at 4701 S. 25th St. It’s a U-shaped Romanesque Revival-style building with about 18,000 square feet. The museum found its permanent home.
2. The museum’s permanent and temporary exhibits
While its exhibit space is limited, El Museo Latino takes advantage of it to showcase outstanding permanent and temporary exhibits. Among its permanent collections are older and contemporary pieces, such as pottery and photographs. Some items date to the pre-Colombian era.
Special exhibits include traveling displays, such as ceramics created by Picasso and “Dia de Muertos” (“Day of the Dead”).
Here are a few upcoming traveling exhibits:
- “Latin American Graphics” – Opened Sept. 12, 2020
- “MOLAS The Art of Panama” – Opened Sept. 12, 2020
- “Dia de Muertos” (“Day of the Dead”) – Oct. 10 through Nov. 14, 2020
Is it a kid-friendly museum? Sure (though don’t expect any hands-on activities)! I dig into it more in this old post about visiting the museum when my children were in preschool.
3. Creative programs at the museum
You can get your dance on by enrolling in a class at El Museo Latino. Featuring classes for adults and children, including folklorico, ballroom, salsa, ballet, and hip-hop, the museum encourages people to get involved on the dance floor.
The museum also offers art and music classes.
4. South Omaha community
With El Museo Latino anchoring the 24th and L Street corridor, the museum is a key leader in South Omaha. Incorporate a walk along 24th Street toward Q Street as part of your visit to the museum.
You’ll find stores selling Quinceanera gowns for the tradition of celebrating a girl’s 15th birthday, as well as other culturally-significant clothes. Outlets featuring authentic pottery and ceramics are located alongside stores marketing Latin flags and piñatas.
Murals celebrating South Omaha’s heritage, from its eastern European immigrants to the Hispanic community, can be found near Plaza de la Raza. The colorful building-sized artwork are worth a trip on their own, but when combined with a visit to El Museo Latino, it creates a wonderful experience for people of all ages and backgrounds.
5. Nearby restaurants
Following your visit to El Museo Latino, check out any of the ethnic restaurants along 24th Street, including Taqueria el Rey at 24th and Q streets, for a delicious and authentic meal.
Or, stop by Jacobo’s Grocery, at 24th and L streets, and pick up freshly-made enchiladas, burritos, chips, and salsa for a delicious meal at home.
With its cultural and art programs, as well as historical exhibits, a visit to El Museo Latino opens the door to a special experience in Omaha. As one of a handful of Latino museums in the country, Omaha is blessed to have an opportunity to learn about Hispanic history and culture up-close.