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A Visionary or Innovative, Creative Leader
Lourdes I. Ramos, Ph.D
President & CEO
Dr. Lourdes Ramos-Rivas, the first Latina president and CEO of Long Beach’s Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), has ambitious plans to grow the museum into a first-class institution with international clout. A native of Puerto Rico, Dr. Ramos has led the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in San Juan, one of the largest and most prominent Latin American cultural institutions. As the past Executive Director and Chief Curator for 12 years, she managed the museum’s financials and curatorial program, helping organize exhibitions, including shows devoted to Puerto Rican impressionist Francisco Oller and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Before her tenure at the Museo de Arte, she was the Director of the San Juan City Museum and the National Collection of Puerto Rico at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture.
She holds a bachelor of arts in fine arts from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, a master of fine arts from Illinois State University, and a doctor of philosophy in fine arts with a concentration in arts administration from the University of Barcelona in Spain.
Dr. Ramos was an accreditation commissioner for the American Alliance of Museums, has participated in the Museum Leadership Program hosted by the Getty Leadership Institute, and is a certified fine art appraiser (USPAP).
She is currently a Board Member of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and a commissioner of the City of Long Beach Cultural Heritage Commission. She is strategic, forward-thinking, and has an excellent track record of museum leadership. Her ability to organize projects on a global scale and attract new audiences and support through innovative, collection-based programs will enable MOLAA to strengthen its artistic direction and create a solid infrastructure for its continued growth.
“When we refer to the most exalted institutions of Latin and Latin American art, MOLAA is a mandatory reference,” says Dr. Ramos. “As a professional, to be able to contribute to and expand upon the artistic legacy and the vision of MOLAA, in a framework of strategic development, is a great responsibility. Nevertheless, it is a shared responsibility with all those visionaries who see the arts as the pinnacle of human expression and a unifying force that celebrates diversity and inclusion without regard to borders.”
Dr. Ramos Rivas’ vision, leadership skills, ample knowledge of the field – including fine arts and museum administration and strategic planning, understanding the needs of her community, empathy with others, courage, and fearlessness are the qualities that have contributed towards her becoming a steadfast leader that she is today. However, she did face a few barriers in her career, but she says that professional challenges are ways to acquire knowledge and identify opportunities of growth as human beings.
Lourdes has been inspiring and empowering women leaders to be a better version of themselves. She advises them to hone a never-give-up attitude and to always think outside the box. She has also been a pioneer in offering opportunities for professional development and networking to her peers and wants every woman in a prominent position to do the same as that cultivates a feeling of growth and equal opportunities.
Her family has always been the pillars of her support and is her role model. They are a tight-knit family with an exceptional work ethic who have always inspired her to be better and expect the best for living the now to make sure we can achieve all our dreams. As a Buddhist, she does see anything as a sacrifice but as a learning experience of life growth and an extension of one’s consciences and spirit for the well-being of all who surround her. Armed with this beautiful mindset, Lourdes has been taking MOLAA to new heights.
The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) was founded in 1996 in Long Beach, California, serving the greater Los Angeles area. MOLAA is the only museum in the United States dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino art. Since its inception, MOLAA has doubled its size and added a 15,000 sq. ft. sculpture garden. Its permanent collection now numbers over 1,300 works of art.
The Museum is located in the city’s rapidly developing East Village Arts District. Between 1913 and 1918, the Museum’s site was home to the Balboa Amusement Producing Company, then the World’s most productive and innovative silent film studio. Before Hollywood, Balboa was the king of the silver screen, producing as much as 20,000 feet of negative film a week.
The renovated building and became MOLAA’s Balboa Events Center may have been part of the old Balboa film studios. MOLAA’s exhibition galleries, administrative offices, and store are housed in what was once a roller-skating rink known as the Hippodrome. Built-in the late 1920s, after the film studios were gone, the Hippodrome was a haven for skaters for four decades. The building then served as a senior health center for fifteen years. The high vaulted ceilings and beautiful wooden floors were ideally suited for the Hippodrome’s final metamorphosis into the Museum of Latin American Art.
MOLAA is an active member of part of the Smithsonian Affiliate, American Alliance of Museums, the California Association of Museums (CAM). Currently, MOLAA welcomes an average of 65,000 individuals for in-person visits annually. As of 2020, MOLAA also launched virtual programming under the name MOLAA en Casa, where the institutional education offerings are available free of charge to all our public. The creation of MOLAA en Casa has allowed the institution to increase its reach throughout the USA and internationally, receiving an average of 120,000 unique visitors online. All online programming is recorded and available to the public throughout YouTube Channel.
“Our exhibition calendar and our permanent collection evidence the growth an expansion of our mission, which – in 2014 – grew to include artwork from Latino/a/x and Chicano/a/x artists,” says Lourdes. “We are vigilant to maintain a balanced program of exhibitions to showcase the most relevant artists in modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino/a/x art.” Additional opportunities for growth for the museum are found in the cultural awareness programs they create to ensure representation and diversity are front and center in their programming. The cultural festivals at MOLAA present opportunities for the Afro-Latino community and the Asian Pacific Islander Communities to have safe spaces to expand the dialogue of relevant issues that speak to their experiences.
MOLAA has proven to be a nexus point where Latin Americans and the Latinx community can meet and connect, and the results are shared with all their visitors – in person or online. MOLAA has provided spaces for Latin American Artists to present their art to a USA community. On the other hand, MOLAA has successfully acted as a bridge of opportunity for US Latinos and Chicanos to present their artwork in other counties in Latin America.
In the upcoming years, there are growth plans for MOLAA. “We are still in the planning stages, but like other museums, MOLAA plans to grow its permanent collection to be more representative and diverse in the artist it hosts, improve facilities, and expand the Board of Directors, among others,” explains Lourdes. “In November 2021, MOLAA turned 25 years old. This event marks the beginning of several events to celebrate our 25th anniversary, including the launch of an updated institutional catalogue featuring the permanent collections and new acquisitions. We are also developing a new Ambassador program among other plans of diversification.”
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