We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Amid the nearly 200-year-old nations in Central America that broke free from Spanish rule in the 1820s, there is one outlier. Belize, the small country on the Caribbean coast, remained a British colony until 1981. The Organization of American States celebrates the nation’s 35th birthday with a new exhibition that honors the figures who helped the nation transition to a sovereign state. Sculptor Santiago Cal has taken over an entire gallery with his installation that incorporates images of Belize’s first prime minister, George Cadie, and tapirs, the quiet, odd-toed ungulate that serves as Belize’s national animal. After examining the symbols of national independence, viewers can move on to a series of images by photojournalist Karl Villanueva. On Sept. 21, 1981, the then-24-year-old took to the streets to capture what he still considers his country’s most important day. From movie theater marquis to lit-up streets, his work captures the excitement that came with being a truly separate entity. There’s more to Belize than its gorgeous vistas and eco-tourism industry. The exhibition is on view Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., to March 13, at the Art Museum of the Americas, 201 18th St. NW. Free. (202) 370-0147. museum.oas.org.