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Celebrities Join Grand Opening Festivities for $10 Million Expansion of the Museum of Latin American Art

LONG BEACH, Calif., May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Inspired by the cultural significance of the Museum of Latin American Art's (molaa) $10 millionexpansion and renovation, Emmy(R) Award winning talk show host Cristina Saralegui and Grammy Award winner Lila Downs have announced their supportand plans to participate in the opening celebrations set for June. molaa, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is the only museum in the western United States that exclusively features contemporary Latin American fine art.


The New molaa

Designed by prominent Mexican architect Manuel Rosen , the "new" molaa reflects contemporary Latin American architecture and style. Two forty-foot monolithic rectangular arches architecturally reflect the expansion's "Bridge to the Americas" theme. The arches, one symbolizing Latin America and the other the United States , reflect the encounter and metaphoric bridge between these diverse cultures. A reflection pool below mirrors these "bridges" and also acknowledges the museum's proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

The expansion more than doubles the museum's physical capacity to 55,000 square feet. It is anticipated that the museum will serve three times the number of visitors and broaden the range of exhibitions and programs offered to the community. The renovation and expansion includes a 15,000 square-foot sculpture garden, educational art studio, film-screening room and a new research library.

Grand Opening Exhibitions

In honor of the grand opening, molaa is featuring two special exhibitions:

La Presencia: Latin American Art in the United States June 10 - August 25,2007

molaa presents the most significant works of Latin American Art represented in public and private art collections in the United States -- from Los Angeles to Miami . Selected works of art include painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography and video art displayed in the movements of Representational Art, Geometric and Optical Art, Pop Art and Neo Pop, Conceptual Art and New Trends in Art Today.

A Bridge to the Americas: The molaa Permanent Collection, beginning June 10 (ongoing)

The new display presents 80 works of art organized both geographically and thematically in two galleries. The art is grouped in three movements-Mythical Landscapes, The Mestizaje (blending) of Identity, Political History. Every six months, one section of the thematic display will be rotated; Political History will be replaced with the theme Urban and Rural Environments, in January, 2008.

Grand Opening Events

In addition, molaa will host multiple grand opening events throughout June including:

Public Opening / Free Family Festival, Sunday, June 10 , featuring art workshops, music and dance performances and entertainment for the entire family. Adding to the fun, guests will enjoy posing for a photo with "Molita,"molaa's llama mascot.

On Sunday, June 17 , Mexican vocalist Lila Downs will headline an outdoor concert. The renowned artist will perform a diverse range of songs from traditional ranchera music to electrifying rock. Her heartfelt ballads will be accompanied by a live band. On Saturday, June 23 there will be a Latin Dance Party that will feature a Venezuelan and a Cuban orchestra as well as a Latin DJ, dance performances and dance contests.

Mid-week events will include: Docent-led architectural and gallery tours,master art classes with Latin American artists, a book signing with the museum's architect, Manuel Rosen and a series of Art for Lunch programs. For details on all opening events log on to

Cristina Saralegui , host of the top rated Spanish language show "The Cristina Show ," will take on the role of Honorary Chair of the Black-Tie Gala on Saturday, June 9 . She will greet guests and introduce the evening's entertainment: the first U.S. presentation of El Otro Paraiso (The OtherParadise) a live-art fashion show featuring 37 distinguished visual artists from Chile .

In addition, as Honorary Curator, Ms. Saralegui , an avid art collector and designer, will provide commentary on a selected artwork from the Museum's Permanent collection, offering guests the opportunity to listen to her insights on art. "I am thrilled that the Museum of Latin American Art is expanding and creating greater opportunities for people to experience the rich beauty and diverse topics of Latin artists," said Saralegui. "Art is very emotional and helps us learn about each other and our unique histories."

The expansion has been completed thanks to the artistic and financial support of donors, both public and private, including Lexus, "Lexus is very proud to support the Museum of Latin American Art and their outstanding cultural events and programs. molaa is an important arts and culture venue for Southern California and we are very excited to partner with them this calendar year," said Deborah Meyer , Vice President, Lexus Marketing.

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