When President Barack Obama made the startling announcement in December of last year that the United States would begin the process of normalizing relations with the island nation of Cuba after decades of animosity & strict embargoes, the ripple effect could be felt on a global scale. With both nations looking to make the way to increase travel opportunities, the possibilities associated with such initiatives seemed boundless. For instance, many who had experienced only fleeting moments of appreciating the depth of Cuban art here in the United States and in other exhibits abroad wondered what this news meant back then. Now an new art exchange looks to create a solid first step out of those possibilities.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York City, in conjunction with the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuba have announced the formation of an official art exchange between the two institutions. The exchange, which is the first extensive artistic collaboration of its nature since the embargo was put in place in 1960, will begin with 80 pieces from the Bronx Museum of The Arts’ permanent collection spanning from that year to the present day going to Havana for exhibition beginning on May 21st until August 16th of this year. This is to coincide with the celebration of the 12th Havana Biennial. Subsequently, the National Museum will send over 100 pieces from their permanent collection north to the Bronx for display beginning in the fall of 2016.
This monumental achievement was the result of talks that were underway long before the announcement in December and associated prisoner exchanges between Cuba and the U.S. Holly Block, the executive director of the Bronx Museum, has made numerous trips to Cuba and commiserated with artists there for years. The museum itself has also fashioned their reputation on showcasing work from Cuban artists as well as artwork from Cuban-Americans, which solidifies ties to the area’s expansive Latino community and in turn has made it one of the nation’s rising artistic destinations. With this art exchange, travelers and natives of both nations will get to see how the cultural bond of art can truly overcome the walls that politics can often build.