History museums and collections in Cuba

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  • Cuba In Cuba historical museums or historical departments of general museums which have been opened in recent years express new concepts which are faithfully ap- plied in accordance with the interpreta- tion of Cuban historical realities.

    There were seven museums in Cuba in 1757. By 1972 there were thirty-six, induding-sixteen-his tor y-museums-or- general museums with historical collec- tions. Among these, the Museo Emilio Bacardi at Sandago de Cuba (1770) and the Museo Ignacio Agramonte at Cama- gey (1772) represent recent experiments in the holding of major historical exhibitions in provincial museums.

    In many cases, historical collections have been reopened to set the Cuban historical process in world context. Some

    attention is paid to regional aspects, in order to show the viewer, step by step, how the Cbban people forged their national identity and obtained complete independence, from the sixteenth century to the present day.

    The museum buildings and the space within them are used to enhance the

    -expressionand-explanation-o~the-histor~-- cal process. A kind of dialogue is established between the viewer, the fact or event, and the exhibit relating to it. The arrangement of the exhibits in terms of space determines how visitors move about each area and between successive stages of the exhibition.

    Traditional methods-the display of objects, photographs, documents, etc.- are replaced by approaches relying on

  • History museums and collections in Cuba = 77

    the use of various techniques which include differential levels of lighting, large-scale mural photographs and texts and drawings conceived as part of the architecture itself.

    An essentially didactic intention gov- erns the museographical arrangement of every exhibition room and of each museum as a whole. A historical room in particular cannot be conceived other- wise without the risk of emphasizing persons or objects rather than historical facts. Appropriate didactic material is essential to a scientific approach to history; otherwise, they are only anec- dotes and myths, which it is precisely the function of a historical museum to destroy.

    The Museo Emilio Bacardi at San- tiago de Cuba, founded in 1899, was installed in a specially constructed build- ing in 1928. Work of reconstruction and adaptation has been going on since 1965.

    A 600-ma historical section is now established on the ground floor (Fig.

    The Museo Ignacio Agramonte at Camagey is a provincial museum which was started in an old part of Cuba in the 1870s. Restored and reorganked from 1965, it reopened its doors in 1972 (Fig. 119).

    II8).

    MARTA AJONA

    118 MUSEO EMILIO BACARDI, Santiago de Cuba. Historical section. Room 3-Conquest and Colonization. I I 9 MUSEO IGNACIO AGRAMONTE, Camagey. Historical section. Room +--War of Independence, from I868 to 1899. Showcase, mural photos and drawings.

  • ' . . . History is a clkipline widely cultivated among nakions and races, It is eagerly sought after. The man in the street, the ordinary pers-on, aspires to know it. I

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