The building that the Museum is housed in now was inaugurated in 1954 but it’s not the original building that was used. There are two buildings (since 2001), one dedicated to Cuban art & the other ‘Palacio del Centro Asturiano’ to universal arts….this post is about the Cuban Art building. The museum exhibits Cuban art collections from the colonial times up to the contemporary. The original institution was founded on February 23, 1913 by its first director, Emilio Heredia Mora (1872-1917). Two years after his plea for donations on November 1, 1910 in the newspaper La Discusión, support from public & private sectors (artists and collectors…) donated the initial core of their collection. The first location for the Museum was located in a building known as the Antiguo Fronton on the corners of Calle Concordia y Lucena in Centro Habana where previously Jai Alai or Basque Pelota was played.
(A popular sport during the first half of the 20th century in Cuba was Basque Pelota (handball) or Jai Alai. The sport came to Cuba by via the Basques from Spain in 1898 and the first Jai Alai Court was built in Havana (below) in 1901 at the corner of Concordia and Lucena. In Havana the sport disappeared in 1959, you can still find six frontons throughout the state of Florida.)
In 1954 the Museum moved to it’s current location, it was designed by the Cuban architect Alfonso Rodriguez Pichardo….it features an inner patio with a fountain in the center. The “Arte Cubano” building is home to in the upwards of 30,000 artworks of which 940 pieces are on permanent exhibition. The three exhibition floors are divided into six sections: Colonial Art (16th – 19th century), Turn of the Century (1894-1927), Emergence of Modern Art (1927-1938), Consolidation of Modern Art (1938-1951), Other Perspectives of Modern Art (1951-1963), and Contemporary Art (1959-present day). On the main floor you’ll find an eatery that serves up light fare and a shop that sells books, magazines and reproductions of some of the more important artworks displayed in the museum.
There are way too many pictures to attach to one post so I will split the artworks into two postings….and I still have to many pictures. This post will feature pieces before 1959 and the next one will be art produced after the current revolution.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana,
Calle Trocadero e/ Zulueta y Monserrate,
La Habana Vieja. Ciudad de La Habana,
Tel:(53-7) 861-3858 y 861-5777
Admission $5.00cuc (tourists) $5.00mn (locals)
Children under 14 free admission
Hours: 9am – 5pm (Tues. – Sat.) 10am-2pm (Sunday)
1928 Caminos de Regla…..Eduardo Abela (b.San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba 1889 – d.Havana 1965)