Chris Ceravolo ~
Often in Cuba, buildings make you feel like you are somewhere else. Usually, that place is Europe (home of the colonizers), because everything is decorated like lace. But in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, that place is New York, because it is capital-M Modern.
At the Casa de las Americas, the frames of artworks had gathered dust and the paper buckled in the humidity. But at the Museo Nacional , the building was air conditioned to keep the artwork (and the viewers) crisp. This costs more money and energy, but is necessary for preserving modern and contemporary art.
The galleries walls are some of the few white walls you can find in Cuba, and are full of daylight from strange windows buried in the ceilings. The stairwells bubble out into the city sidewalk in large shafts of glass.
Though “Modern,” the building isn’t a big, white, air conditioned box. In the center is an enormous courtyard and reflecting pool that opens to the sky. At the entrance to the building, the facade of its former self remains. A sense of Cuban history is preserved, that most “Modern” buildings try to erase.