Lin-Manuel Miranda to be Honored at Raices Gala Benefitting the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture


This week we sat down with Billy Ocasio, the CEO of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (NMPRAC) to talk about the upcoming Raices Gala that will honor Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Poetic Science coming to the NMPRAC September 8th

Poetic Science coming to the NMPRAC September 8th

Nestled in the heart of Humboldt Park is the United States’ only museum purely dedicated to preserving arts, culture, and traditions of the Puerto Rico. The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture is housed in one of Humboldt Park’s oldest buildings. It was designed in 1895 by Chicago architects Frommann & Jebsen. Known as the “Receptory”, the building was originally used as horse stables, offices, workshops, and storage areas. Jens Jensen, renowned landscape architect and conservationist worked in this building when he served as the Superintendent of Humboldt Park. The Jens Jensen office has been rehabilitated and is now open to the public. In the late 1990s the Chicago Park District restored the building. The Chicago Park District entered into a long term lease in order to convert the building into the NMPRAC which was incorporated in 2000. The NMPRAC continued making renovations since that time. In 2014 the renovations were finished and the NMPRAC became a part of the Museums in the Park group.

Ocasio describes the NMPRAC as a place “where preservation meets inspiration”. They strive to document Puerto Rican history and culture as people left the country and traveled in diaspora throughout the United States. They also recognize and encourage modern Puerto Rican artists and cultural trends.  On September 8th, an exhibit called Poetic ScienceArtistic and Scientific Approaches to El Yunque Wilderness opens, documenting intersections between 8 artists and 8 scientists who traveled together in El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. The exhibit comes to Chicago from the Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico.

The project unites art and science for the purpose of celebrating Earth, the resources that Earth provides, and the resources protected under the Wilderness Act, enacted in 1964 in order to establish the National Wilderness Preservation System.
— Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico
The Ceiba Tree

The Ceiba Tree

In addition to showcasing art, the NMPRAC will host a gala on September 22nd. The Raices Gala will raise funds for the museum to complete community engagement projects such as art education classes and various workshops. NMPRAC will also award two very special guests with the Ceiba Award. The Ceiba Award is named after the ceiba tree, an internationally protected tree that grows strong roots out of the ground. This award is given to those who are deeply rooted in preserving the culture, tradition, and the arts of the Puerto Rican people.

This year, the Ceiba Award will go to creative genius Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of Broadway’s biggest hit Hamilton, and Antonio Martorell, one of Puerto Rico’s most prolific modern artists. People from all over the world will attend the gala to support the museum and its surrounding community.

Currently, the NMPRAC holds art education classes and free summer art workshops in collaboration with the Chicago Park District. Ocasio hopes that this gala will make it possible for the museum to engage even more community members with programming at little to no cost. As a former alderman working within Humboldt Park, Ocasio is dedicated to giving back to the community.


How can you get involved? 

Attend the Raices Gala to support the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture and get the chance to hear Lin-Manuel Miranda speak in his first Chicago appearance. Get tickets here

Donate Here to support the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture.

Learn more about the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture.

Jennie Scheerer