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Downtown Museum Explores Contributions To LA Made By Mexican-Americans

LOS ANGELES (  —  LA, of course, is home to many diverse cultures and communities.

The Mexican-American community is honored at La Plaza de Culturas y Artes (501 N. Main Street, LA CA 90012, 213-542-6200), a museum that features exhibits on the history of Mexican-Americans.

CBS2's Amy Johnson visited the museum as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The museum is a stone's throw from Olvera Street. Johnson also reports, it is a literal "journey back in time."

There is a recreation of LA's Main Street and how it looked in the 1920s, better known as Calle Principal.

Ximena Martin is the curator of programs at the museum. It is the first Mexican-American museum of its kind.

"La Plaza Cultura is a place where we tell untold stories," Martin says. "Our mission is to celebrate the Mexican-American accomplishments and experiences and stories."

The stories are told through objects at the facility. It begins with the founding of Los Angeles and the first 44 people who arrived from what we now call Mexico.

"We tell the history of how the borders opened up, this was part of Mexico at a certain point. But more so, the conversation of civil rights," Martin says.

One floor of the museum is interactive and dedicated to children.

"To have have our children aware of their history, it's a history that is not presented in [school] curriculum today, so we feel that we are an important part of their history since [about ] 90% of LAUSD school children are of  Latino descent."

Sophie Rehmus is a Spanish major from Pitzer College. She and her classmates went to the Plaza as part of a class assignment.

"Other museums that we have been to," says Rehmus, "tell [history]  from a very Euro-centric perspective; it goes into success and progress from a a very Western or European point of view, and it's interesting to walk through a museum that is just chronicling that history through the Mexican-American perspective."

Martin hopes each visitor will leave with something special.

"They have an 'a-ha' moment," Martin says, "even though they are from here or from someplace else, they learn something and take that away with them, that they didn't realize about the contributions of Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles."

La Plaza de Cultura y Artes is free and open to the public.


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