San Francisco’s Mexican Museum recently became an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, joining a group of only 170 museums with that distinction nationwide, museum officials announced today.

The museum, located at Fort Mason, became the first in San Francisco to receive the honor, a partnership that will allow for the future loan of artwork and artifacts from the famous museum in Washington, D.C.

Harold Closter, director of the Smithsonian’s affiliations program, flew out to San Francisco today to honor officials at the museum at a noontime news conference.

The Mexican Museum “speaks to a community that we really want to reach out to,” Closter said.

He said the affiliations program, which started in 1996, was for “people that don’t come to Washington to visit our museums to nonetheless have the opportunity to experience what we do.”

Although the affiliation is the first in San Francisco, the Smithsonian has similar partnerships with the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland and the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, Closter said.

Closter and Jonathan Yorba, chief executive officer of the Mexican Museum, also went to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting this afternoon, where Supervisor David Campos introduced a resolution in honor of the new partnership.

“I’m very proud of the work and accomplishments of the Mexican Museum,” Campos said.

Yorba said he was excited because not only will items from the Smithsonian be available for viewing at the Mexican Museum, “our 14,000 items also have a chance to be seen in Washington, D.C.”

What will be loaned and when has yet to be determined, but the Mexican Museum will immediately begin selling selected merchandise from the Smithsonian, Yorba said.

He said the partnership is part of an exciting future for the museum, which is set to move to a new location at Third and Mission streets in 2016. Groundbreaking on the project is scheduled for next year, Yorba said.

Several local elected officials issued statements lauding the new partnership, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi said the affiliation “brings pride to our city and honors the diversity of our communities” and “ensures our museums reflect the rich tapestry that is American diversity, and recognizes the enormous contributions Mexican Americans have made to our nation.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

Want more news, sent to your inbox every day? Then how about subscribing to our email newsletter? Here’s why we think you should. Come on, give it a try.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!