The City University of New York’s Dominican Studies Institute and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History co-hosted an open house called From Merengue to Dembow and Merenhouse: Collecting Dominican Music In America, on Friday October 11, 2013 in New York City.
Over 60 people attended the free and intimate event at the Broadway Housing Communities, Rio II Gallery in Upper Manhattan. People enjoyed the rhythms of the Dominican culture and a taste of the island with Dominican food that night. A timeline created by DSI Library staffers Jhensen Ortiz and Nelson Santana took the audience on a journey through the musical history of Dominican music from the beginnings of pure Merengue to today’s popular Fusion. The event was made possible through the partnership between The City University of New York’s Dominican Studies Institute, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the Smithsonian Latino Center. The Smithsonian is collaborating with the CUNY DSI in creating an exhibit that will showcase the Dominican cultural identity in the United States.
“It’s a great honor for me to be collaborating again with our friends at the Dominican Studies Institute. Music is often the place that we use to celebrate our lives and to mark the important moments in our life,” said Ranald Woodaman, the Exhibitions and Public Programs Director at the Smithsonian Latino Center. “Music is an important part of culture and that’s why we are here as part of our interest in documenting the Dominican experience in the United States and the music scene is a huge part of that,” added Woodaman. The exhibit is part of the Smithsonian’s “Our American Journey” project that examines how people have come through all four borders: the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the boundaries with Canada and Mexico.
People who attended the event were encouraged bring any memorabilia or objects that reflect the cultural identity and historical legacy of the Dominican people in the United States. While at the event people also had a chance to go on tape to share their personal stories about the Dominican culture. “You know what we saw here tonight shows the actions and the wisdom of the Dominican people settling in the U.S.,” said Dr. Ramona Hernandez the Director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute. “I take enormous pride in doing this and also making sure that people know it’s not all us alone that it’s a community. It’s the various sectors of the Dominican people and others helping us to move this [Smithsonian exhibit] forward.”
The recording of Dominican cultural stories and memorabilia will support the Smithsonian in creating the planned exhibit that will showcase the 500 year journey of how distinct peoples have created the United States, which is set to open in 2016.
To view more pictures of the event click here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjL9w7dL