Holguín Museum: Honoring Cuban Flora and Fauna

Since I believe that interest in the environment begins at the local level and should be especially stressed at the early stages of education, I was struck by this feature (Ahora) on the Museum of Natural History Carlos de la Torre y Huerta of Holguín and the efforts made throughout the decades to keep it alive and current.

Located on Maceo Street, between Martí and Luz Caballero, the Museum of Natural History Carlos de la Torre y Huerta (1858-1950) in the city of Holguín is the most visited in the region. Built and inaugurated as a place of leisure in the 1920s, the space was restored in 1968 and by  May 1969 it was a full-fledged Museum of Natural History, with 11 specialized halls and over seven thousand samples of the Cuban flora and fauna. The many species of birds, mammals, crustaceans, and insects in the museum were obtained thanks to the commitment and management of Dr. José García Castañeda and through the decades the museum has provided untold numbers of visitors, old and young, with the pleasure of exploring the marvels of the natural world in a welcoming space.

After a two-year hiatus (with restorations made after damages suffered due to Hurricane Ike), the museum reopened on December 25, 2010, with an exhibition that is still on view. According to museologist Marbelis Salvador, the new exhibition is presented in three more attractive ways: placing of the exponents in their natural environment, integration of species in ecosystems, and placing the different forms in a group coexisting in similar conditions.”

The museum holds, among its most valuable pieces, a jewel of Cuban paleontology: a fossil fish found in Cantera del Aji in Sierra Maestra. It also includes a great collection of polymita (a genus of large, colorful land snail endemic to Cuba) in which “all species are represented,” as museologist María Osorio explains. As part of the show this month, a compilation of rocks like agate, quartz, jade, jasper, opal, and azurite, and other stones used frequently for manufacturing jewelry and decorative pieces are on view.

The Transitory Exhibition Hall, another important space in the museum, is currently involved in a project entitled Live Museum, which will offer the public a new perspective of the work carried out. Modifications are now being made to this area as well as to the museum’s façade and minaret, with the aim restore this “architectural jewel.”

For full article, see http://www.ahora.cu/english/sections/holguin/3637-holguin-museum-preserving-cuban-flora-and-fauna.html (in English) and http://culturahlgcuba.blogspot.com/2011/01/reabrio-sus-puertas-el-museo-de.html (in Spanish)

Photo of museum from http://culturahlgcuba.blogspot.com/2011/01/reabrio-sus-puertas-el-museo-de.html

Photo of a Cuban land snail from http://poramoralarte-folklorista.blogspot.com/2010/09/nature-polymita-cuban-land-snail.html

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