Javier Cardona, Hasta el cuello (2016), a project for the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (photo by Antonio Ramírez; courtesy MAC)

In a collaborative effort to elevate Latinx art within the American curatorial sphere, four major foundations will award $500,000 each to 10 institutions to help finance permanent emerging and mid-career curatorial positions for those with expertise in the field throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. The Mellon, Ford, Getty, and Terra Foundations aim to address the inequity in Latinx representation through Advancing Latinx Art in Museums (ALAM), the second phase of their US Latinx Art Visibility Fund.

The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (MAC); El Museo del Barrio in New York City; National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago; and 516 ARTS in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are among those selected by a jury panel of five Latinx visual art experts. A total of 48 museums and institutions with a demonstrated commitment to collecting and exhibiting Latinx art were invited to apply for the funding opportunity, and the grants will be used to hire five new curators and promote five existing curatorial staff members to permanent positions.

The $500k grants will be awarded over a five-year cycle, financing the curatorial positions until the end of 2027.

The Mellon Foundation states that Latinx-oriented causes and organizations receive less than 2% of philanthropic funding, according to a study conducted by Hispanic Philanthropy analyzing data from 1999 to 2009. More recently, a 2019 study examining the collections of 18 major US art museums indicated that Hispanic and Latino people made up only 2.8% of the artists represented. This is a major disparity considering that they make up 18.9% of the US population, with the percentage spiking in major cities.

“We need to invest more if we want Latinx art to be more broadly represented in our museums, with dedicated curators who can focus exclusively on building and stewarding these collections,”  Joan Weinstein, director of the Getty Foundation, emphasized in the award announcement.

MAC Executive Director and Chief Curator Marianne Ramírez Aponte was elated to be among the ten selected winners, calling the award a “milestone for our institution” for expanding curatorial support for specific projects involving the collection’s Puerto Rican artists.

“With this funding, we will encourage greater knowledge about contemporary art by Latinx artists, expand our network with US-based Puerto Rican artists and other Latinx intersections, and build our support for artists on the island and in the diaspora,” Ramírez Aponte said.

According to the Mellon Foundation, the third phase of the initiative will prioritize “nurturing the study of Latinx art in academic spaces.” 

Rhea Nayyar (she/her) is a New York-based teaching artist who is passionate about elevating minority perspectives within the academic and editorial spheres of the art world. Rhea received her BFA in Visual...