As a part of our 2022 Welcome Home to Shiloh campaign, we are highlighting interviews with some of our members and exploring what Shiloh means to them. Featured here is Margarita Solórzano, the Executive Director and one of the founders of the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas. Visit Welcome Home to learn more about the benefits of becoming a member of Shiloh Museum.
Q: Why is Shiloh Museum special to you?
A: Having a museum in our community means that our community can share its history, stories from the past to see now and to preserve for generations to come. A museum impacts our community by preserving and sharing stories of time and space. You cannot erase where we came from, and knowing these stories can impact our community’s future. The Northwest Arkansas area is in constant change, and the museum has to keep up with demographic and technological changes. When visiting the Shiloh Museum, you cannot help being inspired by the achievements, art and history of people who established themselves in the Ozarks from prehistoric times to modern history. Learning about the stories that have defined the different groups established in the Ozarks throughout the years helps us to understand our present-day reality.
The Latino experience may be different from that of other groups established in the area. Hispanics need to be able to tell their story not only as perceived by historians, but also to tell these stories in their own personal and powerful terms. Through collaboration in creating the narratives for our community we share our struggles for equity, equality and inclusive participation in defending U.S. democracy and highlight each group’s contribution to this intrinsically Ozark identity. The museum can help us bring history to life and show everyone how people create bridges for community integration and embrace the benefits that diversity brings, making our community prosperous and strong. Through the Museum, the journey of social and political events that started in our community can be preserved in the collective memory as people attain their own version of the American Dream.
With our participation, the Museum helps us define ourselves rather than let others define us. The museum can help us tell our own stories, instead of inaccurate versions that for too long painted some groups as outsiders or made them invisible. Each group is an integral force for good and part of the progress. In the end, our local museums provide a sense of community and a place where we all can come together, celebrate a collective heritage, share common knowledge and develop a sense of belonging.
Museum visits allow us to travel through the time and space of history and as in the words of Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” A museum has the power to bring to life the history hidden in our homes and dispel hatred and intolerance. Knowledge and understanding in the museum hallways show our humanity and celebrate our heritage and shared experiences, making everybody feel at home.
Q: Do you have any memories about the Shiloh Museum that you would like to share?
A: I found the Museum personnel to be interested in learning about my culture. For a long time, the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History has shown interest in being inclusive presenting exhibits of Mexican and Latin American arts, crafts, traditional toys and photography projects. Seeing the pride of Latino families when they see their children’s work displayed at the museum is priceless.
Q: What ways does the Shiloh Museum feels like home to you?
A: The Shiloh Museum of Ozark History has opened its doors to all and has given different groups the space to claim it as part of our community and our home.