Marianna Gatto is the executive director and cofounder of the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA), a historian, and author with two decades of experience in public history, non-profit leadership, museums, and education.
Gatto began working on the museum project in 2005, and she later spearheaded a campaign that secured public funds to renovate the historic building in which the IAMLA is located. She has served as the museum’s director since 2010, and oversees matters ranging from fundraising, development, and exhibitions, to education, programming, and fundraising.
Gatto’s research focuses on Italian Americans in Los Angeles and the West. She authored and curated the museum’s award winning permanent exhibition. Her second book, The Italian Americans of Los Angeles: A History, will be released in 2024. Gatto’s writings have been featured in several publications and she is a frequent guest speaker. Gatto has appeared in productions including the PBS series The Italian Americans, and has also consulted for the Discovery Channel, Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, National Geographic, and Netflix.
Among the temporary exhibitions she created for IAMLA are A Real Boy: The Many Lives of Pinocchio; Woven Lives: Exploring Women’s Needlework from the Italian Diaspora; The Sicilian Cart: History in Movement, Fantasy World: Italian Americans in Animation, and Louis Prima: Rediscovering a Musical Legend.
A Los Angeles native, Gatto attended the University of California Los Angeles and California State University Los Angeles, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in social science before beginning her graduate study in history and earning a teaching credential in secondary education. Gatto also has a master’s degree in education.
Gatto’s work has been recognized by the State of California and, in 2021 the Italian republic awarded her the Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy). She is a dame in the Constantinian Order and a dual citizen of the United States and Italy. Gatto is an advisory board member of the Italian American Future Leaders Conference and is the American Society of Italian Legions of Merit’s California representative. She resides in Los Angeles and has an adult son.