Created in April 1913, the National Museum of Fine Arts in Cuba (NMFA) is today one of the most important cultural institutions in the island with more than 48,000 works distributed in collections and stages.
Three majestic buildings serve as headquarters to the museum which has a priceless heritage, witness of the historical evolution of Cuban and world art.
The Palace of Fine Arts, where lies the Cuban Art building, was inaugurated on June 18, 1954 with a design that boosts free large spaces, susceptible to modifications for accommodating different exhibitions. The former Palace of the Asturian Center, premises of the world art since 2001, is one of the most representative buildings of the Republican architecture in Cuba. In its time, it stood out by the construction techniques employed and the materials used in its finish.
The third property which forms the headquarters of the NMFA is the former militia barracks that hosts the administrative area, just a few meters from the building of Cuban Art. The institution is distinguished by several collections: the Count of Lagunillas, considered one of the most important in the world for its variety and richness, with more than 600 unique pieces. There is also an outstanding compilation of Spanish painting, the most significant that exists outside Spain; the Latin American colonial painting; Japanese prints, and the foundation stones of Mesopotamia, classed among the oldest pieces. The European painting is the largest set of universal art, highlighting works of Italian and Flemish Renaissance, Spanish Baroque, and French and British painting of the 19th and 18th centuries, respectively. Likewise, stands out the building of Cuban Art as institution promoting the arts in the broadest sense. There can be seen an integrative view of the different art forms, from the colonial times between the 16th and 19th centuries to the present. In addition to the spaces dedicated to the exhibition of art, its inner courtyard, portals and theater serve as scene for concerts, workshops, fashion shows and community projects, among other activities.
These are some of the values treasured by the emblematic cultural building that held its century over 2013 with dissimilar activities that will extend the celebration until next year. The centenary of the NMFA was included among the most important anniversaries of year to Unesco, distinction that, according to the director of this institution, Moraima Clavijo, is a great recognition for Cuba and all the museum workers.She recalled that the celebration of 100 years of Fine Arts began with the exhibition The Origins of the Collection, which brought back many of the original works in an attempt to rescue the institutional memory, she said. Clavijo remarked that this show was followed by others which, throughout the year, bring people closer to the museum thesaurus, confirming it as a source of amusement and endless culture.
By Marnie Fiallo*