Latin America in Chicago

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Latin America in Chicago

Chicago is the third most populous city in the US 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 Latin American Festival, which showcases the best of Latin America culture, folklore, music, and cuisine; 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; Chicago Festival Cubano whcih celebrates Cuban cultural heritage; El Grito Chicago, which acknowledges the beginning of Mexico's War of Independence against Spanish rule; Chicago Cinco de Mayo Festival and Parade, which remembers the victory of Mexican forces  over the invading French army in the Battle of Puebla; and Chicago Ecuadorian Festival, which celebrates Ecuadorian cultural heritage. 

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

Hecho en Casa Art Exhibit 
November 2, 2016 – May 7, 2017 |  National Museum of Mexican Art | 1852 W. 19th St., Chicago, IL 60608

Francisco Toledo (b.1940) Serpientes/Serpents 2016, felt, 62" x 87" Courtesy of the artist and CaSa.

Francisco Toledo (b.1940) Serpientes/Serpents 2016, felt, 62" x 87" Courtesy of the artist and CaSa

Francisco Toledo (b. 1940), is intensely engaged in the culture and society of his native state of Oaxaca, and has been instrumental in the foundation of a series of highly successful cultural institutions over the past 15 years. These include a museum, five art centers, four libraries and a major art school. While utilizing symbolic creatures connected to his native Zapotec heritage, Toledo’s own artwork repeatedly addresses contemporary social and political issues in Mexico. For more information, please visit the National Museum of Mexican Art.


The Ancient Americas Exhibit
Ongoing Exhibition |  Field Musem | 11400 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


Doctrine and Devotion: Art of the Religious Orders in the Spanish Andes
Through June 25, 2017 | Art Institute of Chicago | 111 South Michigan Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404

Workshop of Bernardo Rodriguez, acitve in Quito, Ecuador. The Holy Family with Mercedarian Symbols, late 18th–early 19th century. Carl and Marilynn Thoma Collection.

Presenting 13 paintings by South American artists from the 17th through 19th century, this focused exhibition introduces visitors to images promoted by several Catholic orders at work in the Spanish Andes—the Dominicans, Franciscans, Mercedarians, and Jesuits—examining the politics of the distinct iconographies each group developed as they vied for devotees and dominion. For more information, please visit the Art Institute of Chicago


Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium
February 18–May 7, 2017 | Art Institute of Chicago | 111 South Michigan Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404


Hélio Oiticica (1937–80) is arguably the most influential Latin American artist of the post–World War II period and is recognized for his significant contributions to the development of contemporary art. A relentless innovator always pushing the traditional boundaries of art, Oiticica moved rapidly and radically from early works influenced by European modernism to large-scale installations that were meant to be physically experienced and often to critique political and social issues. This exhibition offers the first retrospective in the United States of the Brazilian artist’s groundbreaking and influential achievements. For more information, please visit the Art Institute of Chicago.