Celia Cruz on stage at the Kennedy Center October 15, 2001. (Photo/Getty Images) (Celia Cruz performs; “On Stage at the Kennedy Center: The Mark Twain Prize” will air November 21, at 9 p.m. on PBS. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage))

Celia Cruz voted to be in upcoming Smithsonian exhibit

After more than 11,000 votes cast, the winner of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s Frame an Iconic American contest is Celia Cruz. Voters chose the Cuban-American singer among four other important figures in U.S. history. The artist of the project will be the same as the one in associated exhibition, “Pushing Boundaries: Portraits by artist Robert Weingarten,” which will host 15 inspirational Americans, including Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Curator, Shannon Perich, says the artist, Robert Weingarten, will be constructing Cruz’ portrait by layering digital photographic collages. Each component, whether an artifact or landscape, is photographed separately, then blended together into one image in the digital darkroom. The public will have further opportunity to provide input on how her portrait should be presented in the exhibition, which will be available for view in the Fall.

“The thing about Celia Cruz was that she re-invented herself at every opportunity, always gaining new and younger fans,” said Melinda Machado, director of the museum’s office of public affairs. “During the latter part of her career, she started performing in music videos and recording hip hop and other genres of more contemporary music. One of her greatest hits, ‘La negra tiene tumbao,’ became an anthem to a new generation of fans.”

Celia Cruz voted to be in upcoming Smithsonian exhibit celiacruz2 celebrity 2 NBC Latino News

Celia Cruz in Cuba, ca. 1950’s. (Photo by Narcy Studios, Cuba, courtesy of Omer Pardillo-Cid.)

From May 7-11, the museum asked the public to vote among five significant individuals in American history, also including Audie Murphy, Alice Paul, Samuel Morse and Frederick Douglass. However, Celia Cruz, the Queen of Salsa, resonated with a majority of the voters.

This is not the first time a Latina has been exhibited in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.  For Hispanic Heritage Month in 2001, the museum displayed costumes worn by Celia Cruz, Selena and Rosita Fernandez. It also featured the 2005 exhibition, “Azucar: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz,” and will have a future exhibition on Clotilde Arias in September.


  1. […] RELATED: Celia Cruz voted to be in upcoming Smithsonian exhibit […]

  2. […] “Celia Cruz, she was my girl!,” says Caballero who did many collaborations with the Queen of Salsa before her death. “She would say say, ‘If you keep it up, you’re going to make it — be true to yourself.’ She would always hold my hand before a concert.” […]

%d bloggers like this: