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Arts & Culture

New Chicano Park Museum opens for learning and legacy

There is a new museum in the heart of Chicano Park breathing life into the historic land under Interstate 5 in Barrio Logan.

The grand opening happened this week, just as Hispanic Heritage Month draws to a close.

The first exhibit in the 11,000 square foot space is called PILLARS: Stories of Resilience and Self-Determination. It pays tribute to the more than 80 iconic murals included in the park, which also has sculptures, gardens, picnic tables, and playgrounds for the community.

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M.G. Perez
PILLARS Stories of Resilience and Self-Determination is the first art exhibit featured at the new Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center that opened this week, San Diego, Calif., October 14, 2022.

Josephine Talamantez is on the steering committee for Chicano Park and also the chairperson of the new museum.

“It [the museum] is about teaching youth and adults about their own heritage and their own culture, so they become an agent of change in their own right,” she said. 

Rigoberto Reyes, 65, lived some of the history featured in the museum’s inaugural exhibit.

In 1970, when he was 13, Reyes rode his bike from San Ysidro to the place that Barrio Logan residents had been promised would become a park for their neighborhood. What happened next in April of that year became known as the Chicano Park Takeover, when residents fought to stop workers from clearing acreage to build a highway patrol station.

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They also fought for their identity.

“We’ve been called everything from Spanish Americans to wetbacks to Hispanics and Latinos and the brands could go on forever,” Reyes said.

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M.G. Perez
Author Beatrice Zamora reads her book "The Spirit of Chicano Park" to students from Burbank Elementary who were on a field trip, Friday, to the new Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center, San Diego, Calif., October 14, 2022.

The Chicano Park Museum is located at 1960 National Ave. in Barrio Logan. It is free to anyone under the age of 18. At the moment the museum is open to the public from 12 noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Expanded hours are expected by next year.

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