086-museobarrio.jpg (6429 bytes) New York Architecture Images-Upper East Side

El Museo Del Barrio former Heckscher Building




1230 Fifth Ave, Bet. E104 & E105.


c. 1915




brick and limestone cladding on steel frame








El Museo del Barrio was founded in 1969 by a group of Puerto Rican 
parents, educators, artists and community activists in East Harlem's 
Spanish-speaking el barrio, the neighborhood that extends from 96th 
Street to the Harlem River and from Fifth Avenue to the East River on 
Manhattan's Upper East Side. The contexts of El Museo's founding were 
the national civil rights movement and, in the New York City art world, 
the campaign that called for major art institutions to decentralize 
their collections and to represent a variety of non-European cultures 
in their collections and programs. 
From the outset, El Museo defined itself as an educational institution 
and a place of cultural pride and self-discovery for the founding 
Puerto Rican community. Initially El Museo operated in a public school 
classroom as an adjunct to the local school district; then, between 
1969 and l976, El Museo moved to a series of storefronts on Third and 
Lexington Avenues, in the heart of el barrio. In 1977 El Museo found a 
permanent home in the spacious, neo-classical Heckscher Building at 
1230 Fifth Avenue. 

The move to upper Fifth Avenue allowed El Museo to maintain contact 
with its core community yet reach out to a wider non-Latino audience. 
In 1978 El Museo became a founding member of the Museum Mile 
Association, nine of the city's most distinguished cultural 
institutions along 20 historic and scenic blocks on Fifth Avenue, 
including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the 
Jewish Museum, and The Museum of the City of New York. The 
accessibility of the site, participation in this prestigious 
association, one of New York City's major tourist attractions, and a 
growing interest in Latin American art have brought a huge increase in 
our non-Latino visitors, today about 40% of our audience. 

In 1977 El Museo was made a member of the Cultural Institutions Group 
of the City of New York by an act of public policy of the Mayor of New 
York. This organization encompasses 31 cultural institutions housed in 
city-owned buildings, from large, world-famous ones like The 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, to small, community-based ones like El 
Museo. Through substantial funding, CIG membership acknowledges the 
importance of the cultural services these institutions render to the 
population of New York City. 

El Museo's educational mission continues to drive its collections and 
programs. At the same time, El Museo has broadened its mission, 
collections, and programs in response to substantial growth in the 
Mexican, Central and South American, and Caribbean communities, both in 
New York and nationally. El Museo's permanent collection remains a 
treasured resource for developing exhibitions and education programs. 
In recent years the public programs have been developed to address the 
educational needs of diverse populations—seniors, adults, adolescents, 
public school students, and very young visitors. Currently, El Museo 
has in place an experienced, professional staff, including the first 
generation of Latinos/as to specialize in the arts and to be trained in 
curatorial practice. 

In 1994, El Museo completed an intensive, searching institutional 
self-study and long range plan. Board, staff, and consultants reviewed 
and re-affirmed El Museo's mission and program, setting out concrete 
objectives for institutional and program development through the year 
2000. In 1995, El Museo's staff, in concert with a board committee, 
prepared an overview of capital construction priorities to be addressed 
over the next 10-15 years. In addition, El Museo has developed its 
first Long Range Financial and Fundraising Plan. The board and the 
director have established several task forces, composed of board, 
staff, and advisors, to focus the museum's efforts and to ensure 
systematic application of professional standards to each of El Museo's 
core programs and special initiatives. 
El Museo del Barrio
1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street
(212) 831-7272

Bus: M1, M2, M3, M4
Subway: #6

Wed-Sun, 11am-5pm

Suggested Contribution
$5 adults
$3 students and seniors
Members and children under 12, accompanied by an adult or guardian, admitted free.