Latin America in Chicago

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Latin America in Chicago

Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States and it is widely regarded as an international epicenter for finance, tourism, and culture. This multicultural metropolis is also known for the diversity and distinctive history of its 77 neighborhoods. Since the early twentieth century, Latin America has had a notable and active presence in Chicago. Out of almost 3 million residents in Chicago, 28% identify as Hispanic, many of whom are of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent. Landmark neighborhoods such as Pilsen (along 18th street) and La Villita (along 26th street) have been centers of Mexican-American art, cuisine, and culture. Likewise, the Puerto Rican Paseo Boricua in Humboldt Park is known for holding the only self-standing institution in the nation devoted to showcasing Puerto Rican arts and historic exhibitions year-round.

Chicago’s festivals, which often take place during the beautiful Chicago summers, offer millions of people each year an opportunity to experience the wide variety of countries and cultures represented in our city—and the countries and regions of Latin America are no exception. Festival goers can listen and dance to Latin American music, sample regional cuisines, watch Latin American and Latino films, and much more. Included among the myriad festivals are the Taste of Latin America, with a focus on cuisine and cooking demonstrations, in addition to live music, arts, and crafts; Chicago Latino Film Festival, which focuses on films created by the Latinos from the United States and abroad; Fiesta del Sol, which reflects Pilsen’s desire for social transformation in community organizing; El Grito Chicago, which acknowledges the beginning of Mexico's War of Independence against Spanish rule; and Chicago Cinco de Mayo Festival and Parade, which remembers the victory of Mexican forces  over the invading French army in the Battle of Puebla, as well as smaller festivals that celebrate the food and cultures of Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru, among others. 

Chicago is also home to a number of top universities, cultural institutions, historical sites, world-renowned museums, and over 200 theaters and art galleries, making it an unparalleled location for undertaking graduate studies and scholarly research about Latin America and the Caribbean.

Please click here to learn more about Chicago's Latin America-related institutions and resources.

Current and Upcoming Events, Activities & Exhibitions

Panorama Latinx
Ongoing | Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago | 164 N State Street, Chicago, IL 60601

PANORAMA LATINX is an initiative at the Gene Siskel Film Center supported by a three-year grant from the Reva and David Logan Foundation. The goal of the initiative is to support audience development and to engage the Latino community through advocacy, programming, partnerships, and showcasing emerging local filmmakers. Latin America is experiencing a film renaissance right now. The Film Center is proud to be the year-round home for international screenings, including the important new work being made by Latino filmmakers. The Film Center strives to be welcoming and responsive to all communities.

CLARO is a new monthly post-screening discussion group bringing together Chicago area colleges and universities at the Gene Siskel Film Center. As part of the Panorama Latinx initiative, CLARO focuses on films from Latin America and by Latinx filmmakers.

Current films:
Birdboy: The Forgotten Children | Psiconautas, los niños olvidados
2015, Pedro Rivero and Alberto Vázquez, Spain, 76 min.
January 12–18, 2018

No Dress Code Required | Etiqueta no rigurosa
2017, Cristina Herrera Borquez, Mexico, 92 min.
January 21 and 25, 2018

2017, Peter Bratt, USA, 98 min.
January 25, 2018, 1:00pm screening with CLARO discussion to follow
This screening is for STUDENTS ONLY: Tickets must be purchased at Film Center box office.

Tales of Mexico | La Habitación
2016, Natalia Beristáin, Carlos Bolado, Carlos Carrera, Ernesto Contreras, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Alfonso Pineda Ulloa, Alejandro Valle, Iván Ávila Dueñas, Mexico/Poland, 118 min.
February 9–15, 2018

Embrace of the Serpent | El abrazo de la serpiente
2016, Ciro Guerra, Colombia, 125 min.
February 16 and 19, 2018


Placemaking & Landmarks - The Creation of Mexican Spaces in la Dieciocho (Pilsen)
August 29, 2017–April 29, 2018 | National Museum of Mexican Art | 1852 W 19th St, Chicago, IL 60608

The exhibition examines the advent and development of places and structures within the Mexican-Chicago community. Crossing a land border connected by rail lines, the Mexican workforce that started arriving in Chicago during the end of the 19th century has been one of the city’s only ethnic groups not compelled to promptly abandon their native customs. As the Mexican population increased during the 20th century, this city of neighborhoods gradually adapted and transformed in a distinctive way. Placemaking & Landmarks takes a glimpse into some of the ways in which Mexicans made La Dieciocho (Pilsen) their home. For more information, please visit the National Museum of Mexican Art.


The Ancient Americas Exhibit
Ongoing Exhibition |  Field Museum | 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago IL 60605

“Lord Shield Jaguar and Lady Xok,” Lintel 24 Stone carving (replica) Maya (circa AD 725) Chiapas State, Mexico

“Lord Shield Jaguar and Lady Xok,” Lintel 24 Stone carving (replica) Maya (circa AD 725) Chiapas State, Mexico.

Step into the windswept world of Ice Age mammoth hunters. Walk through a replica of an 800-year-old pueblo dwelling and imagine your entire family cooking, eating, and sleeping in one small room. Explore the Aztec empire and its island capital, Tenochtitlan, a city of more than 200,000 people and an extraordinary feat of engineering for any era.

The Field Museum's ground-breaking new exhibition, The Ancient Americas, takes you on a journey through 13,000 years of human ingenuity and achievement in the western hemisphere, where hundreds of diverse societies thrived long before the arrival of Europeans. You'll discover what Field Museum scientists and others have learned about the people who lived in the Americas before us, and how it's changing nearly everything we thought we knew!

In this 19,000-square-foot permanent exhibition you'll experience the epic story of the peopling of these continents, from the Arctic to the tip of South America. To tell that story, the galleries of The Ancient Americas are organized in a uniquely revealing way: not in chronological order around isolated cultures, as in traditional museum exhibitions, but around the diverse approaches people have developed to meet the challenges they face. For more information, please visit the Field Museum