Manassas Museum Celebrates Latino Culture

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By Amy Taylor

Manassas has been celebrating its Latino community’s roots with a special exhibit at Manassas Museum since April 11 of this year. Running through September 22, 2019, the exhibit honors the community’s diversity by representing the culture of many Manassas residents.

“Manassas is home to a large and vibrant Latino population. As part of our mission to include all parts of our community in our programming, exhibitions and outreach, we decided to create a Latino exhibit – the first of its kind for the museum and in this area,” said Mary Helen Dellinger, curator of the Manassas Museum.

The City of Manassas hopes to bring more inclusivity by celebrating all members of their diverse community. The museum partnered with the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Hispanic Council to make that happen through the exhibit.

“Because Latinos are a ‘newer’ population to Manassas, they have not seen themselves in the stories we have traditionally told in our gallery spaces. Exhibits on the Civil War, the train and its importance to Manassas, Jeannie Dean and the Manassas Industrial School by their very definition generally do not
include Latino themes. As part of our effort to broaden our interpretive reach, museum staff is making a concerted effort to provide more exhibits and programs on other aspects of our shared community history. An exhibit on Latino culture fits this description perfectly,” Dellinger said.

This exhibit was a completely fresh experience for the museum, and the public has been the first to view objects and images from private collections around the region.

“The exhibit highlights the Latino culture of 22 different countries in this hemisphere (North America, Central America, The Caribbean, Andean States, and South America – Atlantic Coast). Objects and images show the fine arts, clothing, entertainment, music and other aspects of Latino culture,” said Dellinger.

“The Museum worked with a special committee created just to help with this show. Committee members represented the local Latino community – business leaders, artists, community leaders, etc. It was this group that worked to help select the objects and images for this show. Every object on display but one came from private collections across the region and are on public view for the first time,” Dellinger said.

The exhibit was kicked off with Dance Night at the Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory. The event, directed by Doug Horhota, programs coordinator for the City of Manassas, featured a sampling of music and folkloric dancing from several countries.

The Manassas Museum Exhibits

The Manassas Museum has the Latino exhibit and more in store for history lovers.

“In addition to this exhibit, we also have a large exhibition gallery with more displays about Manassas history,” Dellinger said. “Our next exhibition, opening on October 5, is titled ‘Native Legacy: The Patawomeck Indians of Virginia.’”

The Manassas Museum had humble beginnings in 1973 as a collection of artifacts assembled by Walser Rohr. The museum began as a committee of volunteers and grew with the help of the Manassas Historical Committee. In 1991, they increased their exhibit space and created interactive displays and educational
offerings that explore the city’s rich history. The museum has both permanent and changing galleries, as well as a gift shop where guests can purchase locally crafted items.

Manassas Museum is now steward to many city-owned historic sites like the 1908 Hopkins Candy Factory building, the 1825 Photos provided by City of Manassas Liberia plantation, the 1861 Mayfield Earthwork Fort, the 1914 Southern Railway Depot and the 1864 Cannon Branch Earthwork Fort. The museum drives tourism and works to educate locals and visitors about the rich history of Manassas.

For more information on the Manassas Museum visit their website at manassascity.org/211/Manassas-Museum-System.

Amy Taylor ([email protected]) is a freelance writer and editor. She earned her BLS in English from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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