New exhibit scheduled to open May 3
By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
The Coronado Museum in Liberal will soon be host to a new exhibit based on early Mexican immigration.
The exhibit, which opens on May 3 and lasts until mid-July, will include four sections and will focus on the earlier days of Mexican immigration. The memorabilia featured in the exhibit includes popular clothing and dishes traditionally used in Mexico.
“The era we’re focusing on isn’t current immigration but to show that Mexican roots are deep in this country,” said museum employee Connie Whiteley.
JoAnne Mansell, executive director of the Coronado Museum, said she hopes the exhibit will increase awareness to why immigrants end up in Seward County.
Helping with the exhibit is Dora Ponce, head of the Methodist Mexican-American Ministries
“I think this is very important because sometimes some cultures, you know, we have a lot of diversity here in Liberal, especially right now when we are receiving many people from Africa and from other countries,” Ponce said. “So we are very fortunate to have a bigger city here and we try to relate to teach our own culture and we like to learn about another culture so I think this is a good start for the museum to show the community about that.”
Mansell said the project was a brainchild of Whiteley. After the theme, Mansell contacted Ponce, who had worked with the museum on another exhibit several years before.
“We had just had two back-to-back excellent exhibits and Connie came up with the idea of Mexican immigration,” Mansell said. “At that point in time, I thought it was an excellent idea and at that point in time, she started doing some research, and her research was excellent.”
Whiteley said that one of her expectations for this exhibit is to increase awareness and point out that everyone is descended from immigrants.
“Instead of focusing on like white settlers or the pilgrims on the Mayflower, we settled on Mexican immigrants because our country used to be part of Mexico,” Whiteley said. “People usually focus on Mexico because it’s one of the earliest Latin American countries….we asked Dora when we came up with this to pick out items traditionally associated with Mexico and that’s what she’s bringing to us.”
However, it’s not only the Anglo population that Ponce said she hopes is educated by this exhibit but also the community’s Hispanic population due to the diversity in the Hispanic community.
“Here in Liberal we have Mexicans, we have Salvadorians, Nicaraguans, we have (people) from Argentina, from Chile, from South America,” Ponce said. “So we are a very diverse community but regularly, we are seen as Hispanic. Regularly, they think ‘he is Mexican’ but we are from different countries.”
The museum is also planning entertainment for the exhibit and the Mexican consulate will also be visiting Liberal in July. During the consulate’s visit, there will also be several services offered, including a health fair and immigration legal counsel.