The laid-back yet lively sound of “Baila Esta Cumbia,” one of Tejano Queen Selena’s beloved hits, echoed Sunday through the Dolby Family Terrace on the top floor of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The song was played as part of a sing-along – and sing-along – conducted by Deaf West Theater in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language as a prelude to the biopic’s 25th anniversary screening. Selenaa centerpiece of the museum’s 2nd annual Community Celebration event.
As part of its original commitment to accessibility and inclusion, the museum held a day of free food, drinks, and activities that emphasized art and culture by and for Los Angeles residents. While the Sunday celebration was open to all visitors, the museum worked with a dozen community partners to invite their constituents for free admission.
“We could potentially go the other way to open this event and make it public, but for us it’s a really deliberate path to make sure we target communities that have historically been excluded from museums and art institutions,” director from Academy Museum of Community and Impact tells Marty Preciado News Kidda. This focused effort involved paying $15 each way for transportation via Uber and Lyft.
Although more than 1,400 guests showed up on Sunday via a Community Celebration invitation—up from nearly 1,300 at the inaugural Celebration last October—the atmosphere was relaxed all day, with people representing a wide spectrum of ages and races enjoying themselves. the museum’s various public areas as a place to catch up with family and friends.
The Selena spotlight, which also features a conversation between director Gregory Nava and journalist Maria Garcia (creator and host of the Everything for Selena podcast), was accompanied by screenings of two short films from the Latino Film Institute’s Youth Cinema Project. Elsewhere in the museum, Community Celebration highlights included tours of the Stories of Cinema galleries, Chulita Vinyl Club DJ sets! and KG Superstar, as well as numerous interactive activities: a joint portrait session led by Las Fotos Project, scratching and mixing lessons from Chulita Vinyl Club! and dances from 4C Lab, and hands-on workshops in knot making and tactile film making.
“Traditionally, museums are experienced by reading labels or listening to gallery content, but we want people to get up and move, make and create,” said Amy Homma, vice president of education and public engagement for the Academy Museum.
“It’s so wonderful to have taken this building and transformed it,” said Dorsay Dujon, who has lived in the area since the museum grounds were known as the May Company Building. She was an outspoken supporter of the Academy’s plans to transform the site and now made her first visit to the museum during the Community Celebration. “As nice as it is a tourist attraction, this is for the people who live in the city. It’s an educational opportunity for people who go to the movies to come here.”
Given the programming and food and beverage vendors – Tortas Chago, Burritos La Palma, El Cartel, Trejo’s Tacos and El Oasis, as well as Vurger Guyz, PBJLA and Little Ethiopia of Genet’s favorite meals – one might assume that the Community Celebration is specifically a Latin-themed event, but Preciado and Homma note that the day is simply a reflection of the true makeup of Los Angeles County, which is 49 percent Latino.
“We are constantly working to make the museum an accessible and affordable space,” says Preciado. “When we talk about inclusion, it’s also about how we activate our communities’ agency to ensure that once they’re in the museum, they’re honored, reflected and celebrated in the work we do.”
Accessibility measures at the Community Celebration include all signage and resources printed in both English and Spanish, Spanish-language and ASL facilitation available during the tours and workshops, and open captions during the Selena screenings. Many of these features are part of the museum’s regular offerings, including monthly accommodating open-captioned film screenings, ASL tours, and “Calm Morning” sessions for visitors sensitive to visual and auditory stimulation.