May 2020 - July 2020
For over a century, baseball has played an important role in American culture—and in the lives of Latinos and Latinas both here and abroad. ¡Pleibol! tells the story of how baseball helped Latinos and Latinas build communities, fight discrimination, and pursue their dreams. Housed at the Smithsonian Institute, it is among the first fully bilingual exhibits at the National Museum of American History.
Curators Margaret Salazar-Porzio and Robin Morey had already been working on ¡Pleibol! for years when I began a summer internship at the National Museum of American History in 2020. But as part of the museum’s Digital Experience team, I was asked to build the ¡Pleibol! website. Virtual museum exhibits are always important, as they provide access to people who live far from the physical museum or are homebound—but in 2020, when the coronavirus forced NMAH to close its doors, they were more important than ever.
I believe that you can’t tell a story if you don’t understand it—so before I began working on the ¡Pleibol! website, I familiarized myself with the exhibit as much as possible. Thankfully, Margie and her colleague Adrian Brugos, Jr had already written a book on the topic, so that was a good place to start. I also spent time learning all the objects in the exhibit, which included everything from barrio team photos to Robert Clemente’s Pittsburgh Pirates jersey.
NMAH uses a Drupal template for its virtual exhibits. Unlike physical exhibits, which allow visitors to guide themselves through a space and view objects in any order, this template required a more linear form of storytelling, which made me grateful to have done my earlier research. While it did create some limitations, the template also allowed me to get inventive when arranging stories and formatting images for the website.
After almost a year of delays due to COVID-19, the ¡Pleibol! physical and virtual exhibits launched in summer 2021. It is one of NMAH’s first fully bilingual exhibits, with Spanish text available both in the museum itself and on the website. My role in ¡Pleibol! was small, but I’m extremely grateful to have worked with a wonderful curatorial team on such an important project.