iOS app Android app

Eduardo Diaz
Eduardo Díaz is the director of the Smithsonian Latino Center and a 30-year veteran of arts administration.

The Latino Center works to increase and enhance Latino presence, research and scholarship at the Smithsonian Institution by sponsoring, developing and promoting exhibitions, collections, research and public programs that focus on the Latino experience. Díaz is an advisor to the Smithsonian’s Secretary and Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture as well as to Congress and other government agencies on a range of cultural development issues related to Latino communities in the United States and their impact on diverse countries of origin.
Díaz is responsible for the management and delivery of exhibitions, public and educational programs and the Latino Center’s Latino Virtual Museum. During his tenure, he has spearheaded several projects including the exhibitions “Panamanian Passages” and “Southern Identity: Contemporary Argentine Art.” Current initiatives include the Central American Ceramics Research Project, The Taíno Legacy Project, the DC Latino History Project and Unruly Crossings.

Previously, Díaz was the executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, N.M. He oversaw the operations of a 16-acre campus that offered year-round programming in the visual, performing and literary arts as well and youth and family activities. Before joining the NHCC, Díaz managed a private consulting firm that served arts institutions and agencies, statewide advocacy groups and community-based organizations. He specialized in business and strategic planning, cultural facilities management and cultural and heritage tourism. In 2001, he co-founded the International Accordion Festival, a free outdoor music celebration, in San Antonio.
From 1981 to 1999, Díaz served as the director of Cultural Affairs for the City of San Antonio. He is currently a member of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.

Díaz earned a law degree in 1976 from the University of California, Davis, and a bachelor’s degree in 1972 in Latin American Studies at San Diego State University. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

Entries by Eduardo Diaz

What Might Have Been; Treaties and Nation-Building

(2) Comments | Posted February 3, 2015 | 2:41 PM

"Great nations, like great men, should keep their word."
- Hugo Black, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Nation to Nation; Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations, the recently installed exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian, is one of the most...

Read Post

There, But for the Mambo, Go I

(4) Comments | Posted January 5, 2015 | 3:10 PM

The Mambo craze had reached an apogee in Los Angeles in the 1940s, when my Mexican parents first met and found love. My parents, now 96, always danced well and passed their passion down to me. I am an avid Latin music fan.

Mambo, meaning "conversation with the gods"...

Read Post

'Role Tide' and Obama's Executive Action

(0) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 2:02 PM

Like many in this country, Priscilla Hancock Cooper is among those breathing a sigh of relief with President Obama's recent executive action on immigration. She is the executive director of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. One might ask why the leader of an institution dedicated to preserving and telling the...

Read Post

Don't Ignore the Banks for the Stream

(1) Comments | Posted October 24, 2014 | 6:02 PM

No hay mal que por bien no venga

Translation: There is no bad from which some good doesn't result.

Transcreation: The bitterest trials are often blessings in disguise.

Jim Estrada uses this popular Spanish dicho (saying) early in his recent book, The ABCs and...

Read Post

A New Shade of Green; The Anthropocene, Climate Change and Latinos

(2) Comments | Posted October 1, 2014 | 5:12 PM

"Climate change is a defining issue of our time and there is no time to lose. There is no Plan B because we do not have Planet B," said the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon while participating in New York City's People's Climate March on September 21. The Secretary-General was...

Read Post

The Nuevo South: A Changing Landscape

(2) Comments | Posted July 14, 2014 | 8:17 PM

Having arrived in Pelham, Alabama, several years ago and establishing a construction business, Joel Rivera walked into a small Mexican grocery store looking for a specialty item. "Necesitaba nopales y me querían cobrar cinco pesos para una bolsita. Con la cantidad de mexicanos por aquí pensaba que eso estaba mal....

Read Post

Y a mi, qué? Who Does the Civil Rights Movement Belong To?

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2014 | 1:25 PM

I recently visited the Brooklyn Museum, eager to see Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties. The exhibition is organized into eight sections and features 103 works by 66 artists. It was organized to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and...

Read Post

César Chávez: An American Legend Remembered

(0) Comments | Posted April 1, 2014 | 11:37 PM

"We need a leader, not a martyr!" pleads the brother of beloved labor leader César Chávez in a memorable scene from the film of the same name. The farmworker movement, largely attributed to Chávez and the United Farmworkers Union (UFW), was at a critical juncture in its development when, in...

Read Post

First Voice, Our Voice...

(1) Comments | Posted January 30, 2014 | 12:52 PM

I recently attended the opening of Galería Sin Fronteras (Gallery Without Borders), an exhibition at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. The show features 92 works by 64 artists, mostly Mexican American, from the vast collection of Gilberto Cárdenas, a Notre Dame professor and a prolific...

Read Post

Miami's Huge Leap

(0) Comments | Posted December 9, 2013 | 2:47 PM

"Miami is the capitol of Latin America!" I'm hopeful that this boastful statement by Javier Souto, Miami-Dade County Commissioner, resounded clearly with the civic and cultural leaders present at the December 4 ribbon-cutting of the new Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). A quick demographic scan of Miami-Dade County...

Read Post

Latinos in Atypical Destinations

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2013 | 6:46 PM

Annually, as the eve of Hispanic Heritage Month dawns, I field around 10 requests to speak on a variety of Latino cultural topics, to groups representing government, business, public policy and education. As I was reviewing this year's requests, one in particular stood out. It came from the head of...

Read Post

From Strengthening to Centering the Margin: Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize

(1) Comments | Posted September 30, 2013 | 6:15 PM

For most of my life's work in the cultural development field, the lens has been one of representing and advocating for representation. Ensuring that the cultures of those at the margins were fought for and represented.

I had a recent experience with the Smithsonian's ongoing Asian-Latino Program...

Read Post

What's New Under Tonatiuh?

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2013 | 12:23 PM

My mother would occasionally remind me that: "There's nothing new under the sun." I think she said it to keep it real when I thought I had come up with some cockamamie idea that I thought was genius. When I became a parent and the kids would do the same,...

Read Post

The Many Journeys of Maíz

(3) Comments | Posted July 11, 2013 | 7:28 PM

Innovation is, among other things, the act of introducing something new. In 1932, with this country in the throes of the Great Depression, a restless C.E. Doolin walked into a San Antonio gas station and, according to a National Public Radio story (Hidden Kitchens, 2007), "found a Mexican...

Read Post

The 'I' Words

(3) Comments | Posted June 10, 2013 | 10:20 AM

The Arts and Industries Building is that grand one located just east of the iconic Smithsonian Castle, on the National Mall. It's been shuttered for several years due to some structural, asbestos and other issues. Plans call for the building to reopen in 2014, under an agreement with the U.S....

Read Post

Celebrating What's in the Middle

(1) Comments | Posted April 11, 2013 | 2:57 PM

The majority of Latinos in the United States share an indigenous root and legacy, many more than one. As a Chicano, I was taught about the Aztec and Mayan Empires, and the widespread and diverse presence of other indigenous peoples of Mexico. I have been fortunate to visit Mexican pyramids...

Read Post

The Power of Presence

(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2013 | 1:07 PM

After the presidential election, much has been made of the impact of the Latino vote, shifting some of the national focus to issues that matter to this large and growing population sector. How this plays out on the public policy front remains to be seen; however, interest in tackling nagging...

Read Post

Exploring Indigenous Legacies

(1) Comments | Posted January 28, 2013 | 2:57 PM

In 1662, William Sanderoft, the Archbishop of Canterbury, approved the Jamaican coat of arms, depicting an "Arawak" couple: she holding a food basket, he holding a bow. Below the couple, the inscription: INDVS VTEQVE SERVIET VNI, "The two Indians will serve as one," perfect for implying the collective servitude the...

Read Post

Negotiating Identity, Diversity and Recognition

(2) Comments | Posted November 14, 2012 | 9:38 AM

Many may have read about the recent flare-up between Michael Kaiser and Felix Sánchez. Kaiser is President of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Sánchez directs the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, established to advance the presence of Latinos in the media, telecommunications...

Read Post

A Wake Up Call

(0) Comments | Posted October 31, 2012 | 12:28 PM

I recently had a magical experience at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., courtesy of Gato Barbieri, the legendary Argentine jazz saxophonist. Gato has been in my playlist since the mid-seventies but I'd not listened to him as of late. When I learned he was in...

Read Post