Museum highlights Latino experience

Executive Director Dr. Lynn Orr with a collage piece borrowed from Carlos Quezada, owner of Taqueria, on display at the History Museum of Hood River County.

Photo by Trisha Walker
Executive Director Dr. Lynn Orr with a collage piece borrowed from Carlos Quezada, owner of Taqueria, on display at the History Museum of Hood River County.

A new exhibit at the History Museum of Hood River County highlights both the traditional and the modern in the Latino experience.

“Talking History/Speaking Spanish: The Latino Experience in Hood River County,” on display through December, was created by the museum’s Latino Advisory Committee and “explores the historical context and contemporary realities of the Latino experience in the Hood River area,” as Dr. Lynn Orr, executive director of the museum, wrote in an Oct. 18 piece for the News.

“From 16th century Spanish explorers, to the desperately needed World War II-era workers of the Braceros Program, to the riddles of 21st-century immigration, the installation traces the path our Latino friends and neighbors have traveled to share this beautiful place with us,” she wrote.


THE HISTORY Museum of Hood River County’s exhibit on Latino history and culture runs through December.

The advisory committee and volunteers have blended pieces from the museum’s permanent collection with items on loan from businesses and residents.

There’s a set of Mexican hanging clay pots borrowed from Maria Rivas-Ortega of Lake Taco, a banner that usually hangs in the offices of Radio Tierra, the Juanita’s Chips mascot, and a mixed-media watercolor collage from Carlos Quezada, owner of Taqueria.

There are also dance costumes on loan from Sandy Salazar, traditional mariachi costumes on loan from Sonia Vasquez, and a sequenced-skirt that is part of the museum’s collection — as well as a nod to Our Lady of Guadalupe, with pieces on loan from Gale Arnold and Martha Verduzco.

“The Latino community comes from many different areas — Central America, South America and the Caribbean,” Orr said. “They bring with them a wealth of regional styles and traditions.”

The exhibit also features an “immigration road map” of the steps needed to obtain a green card — current immigration policy being a hot topic, Orr said.

“The museum, through artifacts and documents, lays out historical issues of relevance today,” she said. “These ‘flashpoint’ issues are longstanding.”

Orr finds the history behind each piece to be the most fascinating part of the displays.

“That’s what’s so fun — everything has a story behind it,” she said, referring to the materials used, how an item was constructed, where it comes from and who has owned each piece.

The current exhibit will be shown until the end of the year, when it will be incorporated into the permanent collection, joining displays devoted to Japanese-American and Native American culture in the area.

Where the temporary exhibit focuses primarily on agriculture, the permanent display will feature stories relating to all aspects of the Latino experience, Orr said.

Of particular note: For the first time ever, the “chat” panels — used to tell the stories behind the displays — are bilingual. Maureen Lauran, museum volunteer, designed the graphics.

The History Museum of Hood River County is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Sundays. For more information, visit the museums’ website, www.hoodriver, or call 541-386-6772.

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