Community: Cultural Activities In and Around Casa Hispánica
The Hispanic Institute functioned both as the coordinating center for Hispanic studies in the United States and as a space that hosted activities of that network in New York. Federico de Onís conceived Casa Hispánica as "the common home where everything that unites us to each other and links us with the rest of the world is kept alive". Both in it and in other buildings on the Morningside Campus, the Institute developed a series of events that gradually formed a community of people interested in the different manifestations of Iberian and Latin American cultures.
In addition to family celebrations such as the Christmas party, the institute organized social activities that consisted of weekly meetings open to all students of this university and to members who paid an annual fee. At these meetings, prominent intellectuals, authors, and politicians from different Ibero-American countries - several of whom came to Columbia or Barnard as visiting professors - gave talks and conferences, as well as concerts, receptions, and theatrical performances.
Every year on April 26, in commemoration of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, the Institute also celebrated the Fiesta de la Lengua Española with activities both on campus and in its various branches and associated clubs nationwide.
In line with his mission to serve the interests of Spain in the United States, in various articles De Onís described the latter as a "Hispanic" country due to the vestiges of colonial Spain still present in its territory. Considering it an example of these vestiges, De Onís frequently visited and paid special attention to the centers of the well established Sephardic community in New York and promoted the creation of the Sephardic studies section of the Hispanic Institute.
Salvador Dalí first visited New York in November 1934 for his second and highly acclaimed exhibition in the city. During his stay, the artist gave a series of lectures on painting and art in general, including the public reading of this essay on surrealism at the Casa Hispánica on January 7, 1935.