Publication Date

July 31, 2019

Perspectives Section

Member Spotlight, Perspectives Daily


  • Europe
  • Latin America/Caribbean
  • United States


Latinx, Migration, Immigration, & Diaspora, Public History

Esperanza Sanchez is assistant curator at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and has been a member since 2016.


Instagram and Twitter: @kateespy

Esperanza Sanchez

Alma matersBA, California State University, Northridge, 2012; MA, California State University, Northridge, 2016

Fields of interest: immigration, race, ethnicity, art communities, and organizations in Los Angeles and California, US foreign policy in Latin America and Europe, Latin America’s military governments, and 19th- and 20th-century art

Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?

After graduating from Palisades Charter High School, I started working in education at my alma mater believing I was going to become a history high school teacher. After completing a library internship, I transitioned to Special Collections and Archives at California State University, Northridge where I was first introduced to researching the university’s collection for an exhibition on early California tourism. Based on this experience, I applied to the Autry Museum of the American West and became a museum teacher. At the Autry, I was introduced further to the process of developing exhibitions by meeting with the curators to create K-12th grade tours of the temporary and permanent galleries, interactives for the in-gallery carts, and summer programming. Also, within my history graduate program at CSUN, I was provided with an opportunity to co-curate a public history exhibition in partnership with El Pueblo de Los Angeles National Monument, National Parks Conservation Association, and USC-Huntington. From those experiences, I became a guest curator at the Museum of Latin American Art where I co-curated an exhibition on contemporary comics. During this exhibition, I applied to LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes and started as a curatorial assistant. I worked with the senior curator on multiple exhibitions and was promoted to assistant curator.

What do you like the most about where you live and work?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles and have been fortunate to live in a diverse, multi-cultural community with access to art, culture, and entertainment. I enjoy working at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes because the museum focuses on many of my research interests and topics involving Latinx communities. As a museum professional and woman of color, I believe it is essential to tell the stories of marginalized communities and provide them with an opportunity to see themselves in the exhibitions.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently working on the installation process for Linda Vallejo: Brown Belongings, which opened June 1, 2019. I am also researching for three upcoming exhibitions focusing on Latinx history and art slated for the summer and fall of 2020.

Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?

Yes, my interests continue to grow with every experience. I am taking courses in art history and continue to learn more about contemporary art.

What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever found at the archives or while doing research?   

The most exciting thing I found while doing research is a 1994 political poster against Prop. 187. Most people tend to throw away their unique posters after a protest. Luckily, a photographer kept his handmade sign in good condition, and we featured this poster along with his historical photographs in our ¡Ya Basta! The East LA Walkouts and the Power of Protest.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog, etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?   

I recommend reading The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History to fellow AHA members who are diving into the field of Los Angeles public history.

What do you value most about the history discipline?

The history discipline helped me developed investigative and logical skills to interpret primary and secondary sources. I value learning how to research, write, interview and present truthful narratives. I continue to use these analytical skills to advance the development of public history exhibitions on silent voices of marginalized communities of people of color.

Why is membership in the AHA important to you?   

An AHA membership is necessary for me to share and learn about new research and exchange ideas with fellow historians. Also, I am provided with an opportunity to present exhibitions research at AHA conferences.

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

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Matthew Keough
Matthew Keough

American Historical Association