Weekend Heller: Cuba Si

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Vicki Gold Levi, my co-author on Cuba Style, and collector of pre-revolutionary Cuban design and ephemera has donated a major gift to the Wolfsonian Museum. Recently she consulted with one of museum’s curators, Christian Larsen, about an exhibition of some of the materials she had gifted documenting the U.S-Cuba tourist trade in the pre-Castro era. The exhibition, Paradise Found: Cuban Allure, American Seduction, is being organized by Larsen with Rosa Lowinger serving as guest curator, and is tentatively scheduled for some time in 2016.


“The exhibition will not sugar-coat the realities of the tourist trade,” states a museum newsletter. Many Americans were traveling to Cuba in order to indulge in the tropical delights of sun and sand, rum and Rhumba. During the era of Prohibition in the States, tourists crossing the Florida straits to Cuba were able openly to frequent casinos and gambling joints, cabarets, nightclubs, and dance halls, a tradition that continued to have appeal long after the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment.


The Wolfsonian library already holds a substantial and important collection of printed ephemera and Cuban periodicals thanks to Levi’s earlier gifts. She has since added new materials the collection to help round out the exhibition.

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