The Smithsonian Board of Regents announced that the search for sites for two new museums — the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum — will primarily focus on four locations. 

The Smithsonian and the engineering/architecture firm Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore will evaluate each site between now and the year-end. Congress authorized the museums in December 2020. Since passing the legislation, the Smithsonian has undertaken an extensive site-selection analysis and thorough review of more than 25 sites, according to the institution. 

The legislation requires that the Smithsonian identify the two final locations by the end of 2022 — the Board of Regents will make the final decision on the locations.

The four sites under further consideration are the Arts and Industries Building in Southwest, undeveloped land near the Capitol, the National Monument and the Tidal Basin.

The evaluation of each site uses criteria that include locations, existing site conditions, accessibility by multiple forms of transportation, environmental factors, costs and acquisition potential. 

“Selection of a site is one of the most consequential decisions for a museum,” said Lonnie Bunch, Smithsonian Secretary. “It is important that the steps we take ensure a transparent, inclusive and thorough process.”  

Earlier this year, the Smithsonian began conducting surveys and focus groups for a mix of local and national perspectives. 

There were nine focus sessions—four for each museum and one for both museums. 

Focus sessions included stakeholders from civic groups and community non-profits, government leaders, congressional representatives, artists, performers, educators, museum professionals and potential donors. 

In addition, Smithsonian leadership consulted with the mayor’s office and other local officials.

Steve Case, the chair of the Board of Regents, said the Smithsonian appreciates the input of stakeholders in selecting the best locations for 21st-century institutions. 

“…museums that will engage visitors with new collections, imaginative exhibitions, and immersive experiences, while providing digital content for a national audience,” Case said. 

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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