For over two years, establishing a Latino Heritage Museum in Hope has been a work-in-progress for founding President Porfirio Gutierrez and, according to Gutierrez, the museum is at a stage that it needs a place to call home, and he has just the one in mind.
Gutierrez, who said he is the grandson of immigrants to the United States who settled over 100 years ago in Colorado as sweet beet farmers, said there are Latino Heritage museums all across the U.S. and it has been his desire for a long time to put one in Arkansas. Gutierrez said that after initially considering trying to locate the museum in northwest Arkansas, he was introduced to Hope by Eddie Garcia of the Amigo Newspaper in Hope.
According to Gutierrez, the Latino Heritage Museum is a registered non-profit and has as its mission to “highlight the many contributions that Latinos have made in the United State and the state of Arkansas.” Gutierrez said that museum will have exhibits of Latino history, culture and arts and will serve to aid Latino immigrants with acclimating to life in the U.S. and provide a place for education, job training and connecting with others. Gutierrez said that they want to collect stories of immigrants to learn about their experience and what led them to uproot their lives in their home countries to relocate to the U.S. But, he said, the museum isn’t only for Latinos, anyone, Gutierrez said, is welcome to come to the museum once it’s opened. One of the stated goals of the museum is to “promote mutual understanding and illustrate the advantages of cooperation between Arkansas and Latino Communities.”
Gutierrez said he has his sites set on the brick home located next to the Clinton Home Visitor Center on the corner of S. Pine St. and W. Division St. Gutierrez said he approached the owner to see if they would be interested in donating the location to the museum but the idea was not received warmly. Gutierrez said that the site is ideal, and he doesn’t have any other locations as a backup at this time if the museum can’t acquire the location for its home. He said that the museum will need the space and he envisions being able to have a cooperative relationship with the Clinton House National Park. He expects the Latino Heritage Museum to draw upwards of 5000 visitors to Hope each year. He said that museum needs to come up with $115,000 to purchase the property and that they have several people that can help them come up with the finances to secure it.
If you are interested in learning more about the Latino Heritage Museum in Hope, you can visit their website at latinmuseumhope.org. You can find their contact information and how to donate if you are interested. Gutierrez said that all donations are appreciated and the organization can supply the necessary documents for filing your donation on your taxes. Gutierrez invites everyone to stop by their booth to say ‘hi’ and enter in to a raffle during the 43rd Annual Hope Watermelon Festival.