The new ¡Cuba! exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History explores the nation’s history, traditions, geology, highly diverse ecosystems and native species. The following are some of the highlights visitors will be able to experience through Aug. 13.
A stroll through this section allows visitors to view a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air, scenes from Cuba’s Carnival in July (to commemorate the Revolution) and the rise of small businesses represented by pictures of thriving food carts and the part bicycle/part taxicab that is a bicitaxi (above).
Caves that date back millions of years have yielded a treasure trove of artifacts including wall paintings, graves, artifacts and fossils. Along with traces of ancient peoples, scientists also found the remains of Ornimegalonyx, an extinct near-flightless giant owl that was the size of a small child.
Cuba’s Coral Reefs
Gardens of the Queen is an 840-square mile archipelago in the southern part of Cuba established as a national park and is the country’s largest protected area. This part of the exhibition reflects the area’s rich biodiversity that includes coral, starfish, sea fans, sponges, sharks and spiny lobsters.
Alejandro de Humboldt National Park
Stretched out over roughly 275-square miles, this park stretches from the mountains to the sea and is one of the most biologically diverse island sites on the planet. A mix of preserved (rodents, snails, insects) and live (lizards, boa constrictors, frogs) animals populate this part of the exhibition.
This part of the exhibition reflects artists who have worked in myriad disciplines cultivated through the Cuban state’s specialized schools, galleries, cultural institutions and programs. Posters created in the past decade by a new generation of Cuban artists dominate this space.
Cuba’s early post-Revolution days may have left it an atheist country, but later reforms allowed for increased religious freedom. Santería, a hybrid of spiritual beliefs, is reflected in the exhibit by way of reconstructed altars that include talismans, musical instruments, garments and totems.
Tobacco in Cuba
Given that cigars are one of Cuba’s leading exports, a replica of a tobacco drying room is included here. Beyond the replica leaves and tools displayed here, visitors learn about the cultural impact of professional readers (lectors) that recite news and novels to workers, promoting literacy and political ideas to the masses.
To learn more about the ¡Cuba! exhibition, see Bringing ¡Cuba! To The Masses.
The ¡Cuba! exhibition will be on view through Aug. 13 at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West and 79th Street, NYC. Visit www.amnh.org or call 212-769-5100 for more information.