The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles opened a new exhibit today, “Latin GRAMMY: 20 years of Excellence.” This follows the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Latin Grammys, which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday (Nov. 14).
The Grammy Museum is located at L.A. Live on the corner of Olympic and Figueroa in Downtown Los Angeles. For this exhibit, the museum collaborated with the Latin Recording Academy and redid its third floor. It will run through spring of 2020.
The exhibit features artist profiles on the walls – Shakira, Ricky Martin, Juanes and more - artwork for each award ceremony throughout the twenty years, outfits worn by iconic singers (even as recent as performer Ximena Sariñana’s dress from Thursday’s awards), artists’ instruments and interactive screens that highlight the nominees/winners for this year and more history on Latin music.
On its opening day, they offered tours to about 200 high school students, starting just before noon. Later in the afternoon, an official ribbon-cutting ceremony occurred with Grammy Museum President Michael Sticka and President/CEO of the Latin Recording Academy Gabriel Abaroa Jr. And finally, after some scheduled performances, the museum officially opened at 7 p.m. to the public for free.
Museum president Sticka said the exhibit was a “very natural fit for [them]” considering that the Latin Recording Academy is their sister organization.
“We recently spent $2 million renovating our third floor here at the museum and added in about three thousand square feet of gallery dedicated to Latin music,” Sticka said.
Planning and preparations started about a year ago; construction then began in August and was only just recently completed.
Sticka said at its core, "the museum is an educational institution.” He hopes that people learn about the process of winning a Grammy, and hopes they get to experience all kinds of genres of music that they may not be familiar with.
It’s quite interesting that he claims an extra three thousand square feet of museum space is dedicated to “Latin music” and for people to “experience a variety of genres.” Yet, very few contemporary reggaeton or “urban” (urbano) artists are featured, even though they currently dominate the charts in number of streams and overall popularity.
Sticka and his representative declined to answer a question about the decision not to showcase more reggaeton or contemporary artists in the exhibit, especially in light of Thursday’s award ceremony boycott.
It’s difficult to encapsulate “reggaeton” into a description, but for those unfamiliar with it, it’s modern Spanish music/Latin trap which has recently made its way into mainstream music in the U.S.
In terms of the Latin Grammys, many reggaeton artists felt they were snubbed after failing to receive nominations. Balvin, who is the 5th most listened to artist in the world on Spotify, was particularly vocal about it on Instagram.
This spurred a movement on Instagram, under the photo and the hashtag #sinreggaetonnohaylatingrammys, meaning, “Without reggaeton, there is no Latin Grammys.” Because of this, other artists followed suit – like Maluma, Nicky Jam, Karol G, Natti Natasha – and were not in attendance Thursday evening.
J Balvin received two nominations, and even then, only for songs he was featured on.
Spanish singer Rosalía won big Thursday night, having come into the event with five nominations. She took home awards for Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Album, Song of the Year, Best Urban Song (with J Balvin), for “El Mal Querer” and “Con Altura,” respectively. There was also controversy surrounding her wins, since she is not technically of Latino descent.
This is not to say the Grammy Museum completely snubbed all artists in its new exhibit. Luis Fonsi’s suit is on display from when he performed “Despacito” at the 18th Latin Grammys ceremony. And Ricky Martin and Shakira were also featured, who both have heavily contributed to reggaeton as well. Thalía, a Mexican artist known for her song “No Me Acuerdo,” was also profiled.
Latin music, is, of course, a very general term, and it’s hard to encapsulate everything from salsa, reggaeton to bachata to flamenco and more into one “genre.” However, when modern artists like Bad Bunny and J Balvin (and many others) are dominating the charts, failing to include them in the nominations, and failing to include them in their Latin Grammy exhibit, is failing to be truly representative of modern Latin music.
If you’re into more classic Spanish music or from a slightly older generation of artists, like Carlos Vivies, Julio Iglesias, Gloria Estefan, and more, this museum is for you.
See the full list of the Latin Grammy nominees and winners here.