PHOTOS: El Museo del Barrio 50th Anniversary Gala

El Museo del Barrio Director Patrick Charpenel, El Museo del Barrio Chair Maria Eugenia Maury, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Tom Finkelpearl attend El Museo del Barrio’s 50th Anniversary Gala at The Plaza on May 2, 2019 in New York. (Photo by Aurora Rose/PMC)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed from the stage of the Plaza Hotel Dia de El Museo Del Barrio at El Museo’s 50th anniversary celebration, May 2, 2019. “The creation of El Museo is one of the moments where history started to change,” said the Mayor as he presented an official proclamation from the City.  This was only one of the surprises in a Gala evening that honored Ella Fontanals-CisnerosCraig Robins, and El Museo’s founding director, artist Raphael Montanez Ortiz and raised in excess of $1.2 million.

El Museo board chair Maria Eugenia Maury opened the evening with spirited remarks invoking Latina activist Dolores Huerta who said, “Walk the streets with us into history. Get off the sidewalk.” The evening was MC’d by WNBC TV Lynda Baquero with nearly 500 guests dancing in black tie. Executive director Patrick Charpenel expressed the feelings of many when he shared, “El Museo del Barrio is a museum created by and for the community in response to the cultural marginalization faced by Puerto Ricans in New York…Today, issues of representation and social justice remain central to Latinos in this country.”

Artist Rirkrit Travanija introduced longtime supporter Craig Robins who received the Outstanding Patron of Art and Design Award. Craig graciously shared, “The growth and impact of this museum is nothing short of extraordinary.”

El Museo chairman emeritus and artist, Tony Bechara, introduced Ella Fontanals-Cisneros who received the Outstanding Patron of the Arts award, noting her longtime support of Latin artists including early support Carmen Herrera, both thru acquiring her work and presenting it at her Miami intuition, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO).  With her family around her, Fontanals-Cisneros accepted the award elegantly in Spanish.

Sisters Ela Troyano and Carmelita Tropicana Troyano warmly welcomed their friend, Raphael Montanez Ortiz to the stage and read from a message from Chon A. Noriega that noted his importance to the Latinx community as well his remarkable body of work in many genres.  From a seat on the stage the handsome 85 year old artist led guests in his signature audience participation concert first activated in 1966. With the assistance of Executive Director Patrick Charpenel, the entire Plaza Ballroom audience took  white paper bags, wrote on them “whatever garbage or worries they have,” inflated the bags and “popped their worries away.”

A live auction was conducted by Gabriela Palmieri, Senior Vice President of Sotheby’s, and daughter of legendary jazz artist Eddie Palmieri.  Gabriela made a loving donation on behalf of her mother Iraida Palmieri. Guests enjoyed magnums of Moet & Chandon at every table, danced to Latin music by Avenida B and a special performance by La Voz contestant Manny Cabo. 


El Museo del Barrio, founded by a coalition of Puerto Rican educators, artists, and activists, is the nation’s leading Latino/Latinx and Latin American cultural institution. The Museum welcomes visitors of all backgrounds to discover the artistic landscape of these communities through its extensive Permanent Collection, varied exhibitions and publications, bilingual public programs, educational activities, festivals, and special events.

The Museum is located at 1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street in New York City, and open Wednesday to Saturday from 11:00am – 6:00pm, and Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00pm. Admission is suggested.

Currently on view at El Museo is “Culture and The People: El Museo del Barrio,1969-2019”, a two-part exhibition featuring selections from the Permanent Collection.

For more information on El Museo del Barrio, please visit To connect with El Museo del Barrio via Social Media, follow us on Facebook at, Instagram at, and Twitter at

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