Hispanic explorers first reached the shores of California in the 1500s. By the 19th century, Spain had built missions throughout the state, the Californios owned huge land grants, and California was part of the United States of Mexico. From that time to the present, Hispanic Californians have been among the largest cultural groups in the state. The items in these exhibitions trace the history of Hispanic Americans in California from the Mission system and Californios into the 20th century: Mexican immigration into California, the farmworkers' labor struggles, and the Chicano Civil Rights movement and La Raza, which also resulted in an explosion of cultural art. Although a number of different Hispanic American groups now live in the state, the images in these exhibitions largely portray Mexican Americans, who have always comprised the majority of Hispanic Californians.
This theme and its exhibitions were created as part of the California Cultures project.