New Cuba exhibit at Discovery Place is a cultural escape into a truly unique country

By Dante Miller

November 14, 2019

When you think of Cuba, cigars, cool vintage cars, politics and, sadly, the current fuel crisis might come to mind. But there is so much more to this beautiful Caribbean island, and Charlotteans can learn all about the countries wonders at the Discovery Place Science’s bilingual exhibit ¡Cuba!, which opened on November 9 and will continue until Jan. 1, 2020. 

Courtesy of Discovery Place

Unlike most historical exhibits, that starts with early human civilizations, ¡Cuba! begins with the geographical development of the island itself. Guests will learn about various past events and cultures and can watch documentaries as they tour the exhibit. Attendees can gain an even better understanding of the country by watching Cuba IMAX, which goes more in-depth and expands on what the exhibit has to offer. 

“I want people to have a better understanding of who the Cuban people are,” said Dr. Ana Luz Porzecanski the co-curator of the exhibit. “We hear a lot about the government, but what about the people? I also want people to learn how Cuba is biologically unique.”

Courtesy of Discovery Place

Half of the plants in Cuba are only found in Cuba, and various animals on the island are also only found in Cuba. That’s because of its unusual ecology. Porzecanski described the country as the Madagascar of the Caribbean. 

“A lot of people don’t know that Cuba has the smallest bird in the world— and you can see a model of it here [¡Cuba!]. Visitors can also see a model of the beautiful extinct giant owl. Guests will leave out the exhibit knowing how Cuba is connected to the rest of the world, how’s it’s been connected to the past and how it’s changing,” said Porzecanski.

Courtesy of Discovery Place

The American Museum of National History organized the exhibit, and it was the first fully bilingual exhibit in the museum. ¡Cuba! took roughly two years to develop. “We worked very closely with Cuban partners,” said  Porzecanski “There were a lot of conversations and brainstorming. We hired amazing photojournalists to take photos and document interviews,” said  Porzecanski. 

Courtesy of Discovery Place

In addition to seeing Cuba’s unique biology, visitors of the exhibit will also have a chance to see the country’s cultural beauty through paintings from Cuban artists, Cuba’s famous coffee, traditional Cuban car models, and diverse interviews. 

For more information about the exhibit visit and watch the trailer for the IMAX movie Cuba.

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