Mel Martínez , Attorney and public official. Photo by Héctor Méndez-Caratini. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution.


Archived exhibitions are no longer available for booking but are maintained as a virtual record of past Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) programs.

Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.
Traveler, there is no path, you make it as you walk.

—Antonio Machado (1875-1939), Spanish poet

The Latino journey in North America began more than five centuries ago, long before the founding of the United States. The ancestors of today’s Latinos were the men and women who first ranched cattle, introduced the metal plow, developed irrigation systems, innovated mining techniques, spun wool into blankets, produced the bounty of fields and factories, and defended our freedom. Latinos have also helped lay the groundwork for the advancement of art, law, religion, science, education, commerce, and virtually every other endeavor of American life.

Tania Leon. Photo by Luis MalloAgainst this backdrop of accomplishment, the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives and SITES created Our Journeys/Our Stories: Portraits of Latino Achievement to highlight the diversity of contemporary Latino success in the United States. The exhibition features 24 individuals and one extended family whose stories are told through specially commissioned photographs and biographical profiles containing excerpts from recent Smithsonian interviews. While each of the featured Latinos tells a distinct and individual story, the profiles as a whole reflect shared Latino experiences, values, and ideals. Among these are respect for the wisdom of their elders, passed down through familiar sayings, or dichos, that resound as words of inspiration.

Latinos celebrated in this bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibition include astronaut Ellen Ochoa, Nobel Laureate Mario Molina, Olympic medalist speed skater Derek Parra, writers Cristina García and Victor Villaseñor, artists Pepón Osorio and Judith Baca, and businessman and philanthropist Joseph Unanue. As risk takers, innovators, leaders, and mentors to young Americans, these talented individuals have worked hard to become the best in their fields, frequently overcoming obstacles and prejudices along the way. Also highlighted through photographs and text are a dozen influential figures from the past, including poet and revolutionary José Martí, feminist labor leader Emma Tenayuca, athlete and humanitarian Roberto Clemente, and singer Celia Cruz.

The men and women featured in this inspirational exhibition were selected by a seven-member advisory board of historians, curators, and leaders in the U.S. Latino community. Also contributing to this celebration of success, self-discovery, and roots and traditions are curatorial consultant Nicolás Kanellos, University of Houston; photography consultant Ricardo Viera, Lehigh University; and photographers Luis Mallo, Héctor Méndez-Caratini, and Celia Alvarez Muñoz.

Our Journeys/Our Stories is complemented by education outreach materials, and host venues are encouraged to involve their local communities in public programming and educational activities.

The exhibition, its national tour, and related programs are made possible by the Ford Motor Company Fund.

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Exhibition specifications

Contents 25 framed photographs, text panels, vinyl lettering of 10 bilingual dichos

Brochure, website, teacher’s guide, family guide, educational resources, PR materials, digital graphic templates

Participation Fee

$2,000 for a 12-week booking period (fee includes all shipping costs)

Size 2,700 sq. feet (227 sq. meters)
Crates 8
Category History & Culture
Security Moderate
Shipping Included in fee
SITES Contacts

Michelle Torres-Carmona, 202.633.3143 (Scheduling)
Evelyn Figueroa, 202.633.3110 (Content)

Toured Through June 2008
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Tour itinerary

Dates   Host Institution Status
2/19/04 5/2/04 National Museum of American History, Washington, DC Booked
5/22/04 8/15/04 Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Chicago, IL Booked
9/4/04 11/28/04 Mexican Heritage Plaza, San Jose, CA Booked
12/18/04 3/13/05 History Center-Fort Wayne Historical Society, Fort Wayne, IN Booked
4/2/05 6/26/05 Universidad del Sagrado Corazon, San Juan, Puerto Rico Booked
8/11/05 10/16/05 Institute of Texan Cultures, San Antonio, TX Booked
3/11/06 6/11/06 Chamizal National Memorial, El Paso, TX Booked
Extension tour      
11/11/06 1/20/07 El Museo Latino, Omaha, NE Booked
3/1/07 5/13/07 Texas A&M International University, Laredo, TX Booked
6/3/07 10/7/07 Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg Counties, Charlotte, NC Booked
12/1/07 2/24/08 New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, NJ Booked
3/15/08 6/8/08 The Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages, Stony Brook, NY Booked
9/10/08 2/01/09 Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing Booked
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Related publications

Our Journeys, Our Stories: Portraits of Latino Acheivement, 2007.

Exhibition Brochure Reprint. FREE
>> Download

Our Journeys, Our Stories brochure

Our Journeys, Our Stories: Portraits of Latino Achievement, 2007

Family Guide. FREE
>> Download

Our Journeys, Our Stories family guide
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Press Release


Exhibit on Latino Achievement Opens at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Entrepreneur Linda Alvarado was guided by her mother's philosophy of "start small, but think big." Dr. Juan Romagoza was inspired by Archbishop Oscar Romero's devotion to El Salvador's poor. And playwright Luis Valdez says César Chávez has always been his role model. These and other stories will give visitors to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History a look at the experiences of U.S. Latinos who have made significant contributions to American life.

"Our Journeys/Our Stories: Portraits of Latino Achievement" presents narratives of 24 individuals and one extended family that tell a much larger story about the influences-from family members to public figures-that made them who they are today. The exhibition opens Wednesday, Feb. 18 and continues through April 25. The exhibition was developed by the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives. After it closes in Washington, the bilingual exhibition will travel to museums around the country through the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

"Our Journeys/Our Stories," its national tour and related programs are made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund.

"This exhibition is an anthology of compelling biographical portraits that evoke the depth and breadth of Latino contributions to American society," says Anna Cabral, director of the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives. "There will be well-known names in the exhibit as well as people who may not be as famous but whose inspirational stories need to be told."

Among the exhibition's portraits are astronaut Ellen Ochoa, athlete Rebecca Lobo, artist Pepón Osorio, labor leader Dolores Huerta and folklorist Teodoro Vidal. A biographical narrative that includes excerpts from recent oral history interviews complements their portraits. Nobel Prize-winning chemist Mario Molina, for example, tells how he became fascinated with science. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson describes the event that led him to pursue a life of public service.

The exhibition includes personal stories, photos, oral histories and dichos, or traditional sayings. The influential dichos pass knowledge, experience and values down through the generations. They include such sayings as ¡Sí se puede! (We can do it!); Si no sabes de donde vienes, no sabes a donde irás (If you don't know where you are coming from, you don't know where you are going); Si vale la pena hacerlo, vale la pena hacerlo bien (If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well); and El que algo quiere, algo le cuesta (No pain, no gain).

"These stories celebrate what's at the heart of so many Latino success stories-a desire to achieve and make a difference," said Sandra Ulsh, president of Ford Motor Company Fund. "Visitors to this Smithsonian exhibit will have the opportunity to learn about Latinos who have made varying but very important contributions to the American fabric."

A seven-member advisory committee that included historians, curators and people known for their work in the U.S. Latino community selected the men and women featured in the exhibition. Their stories combine to provide an inspirational, illustrated anthology of Latino accomplishments across generations.

Ricardo Viera, a consultant on Latino and Caribbean contemporary art and photography, challenged three of today's most exciting photographers to create the 25 portraits. Through color photographs, Celia Alvarez Muñoz, Héctor Méndez-Caratini and Luis Mallo reveal their subjects' character within the context of his or her own "place."

Nicolás Kanellos, the Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Literature at the University of Houston and director of a national Hispanic literary research program, wrote the exhibit's introduction. Kanellos also is founding publisher of the journal The Americas Review and of the publishing company Arte Público Press.

"This exhibition is more than a collection of individual photos and stories, more than a gallery of heroes and heroines, past and present. It is a collective narrative of the multiple ways we have succeeded by contributing to our communities, to the nation, to mankind," Kanellos says. "They inspire all of us to pursue excellence, not for fame or recognition, but moved by our desire, as Latinos and as Americans, to leave this world a better place than we found it."

"Our Journeys/Our Stories" will be accompanied by several educational components during the rest of the tour. Host venues will be encouraged to involve their local communities in public programming and educational activities when the exhibit travels to their cities.

"Our Journeys/Our Stories" will travel to Chicago's Mexican Fine Arts Cultural Center May 22-Aug. 15, and to the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose, Calif., Sept. 4-Nov. 28.

The mission of the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives is to foster understanding and appreciation of Latino history and culture using the vast resources of the Smithsonian's collections, research and public programs, both in Washington and across the United States.

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work, and play.

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