El Museo de la Revolucion is one of the greatest architectural places found in Havana, Cuba. Filled with not only great political history but also with memories representing the compelling story of the Cuban Revolution. The Presidential Palace, now El Museo de la Revolucion, occupies a very significant part of every Cuban heart. Representing not only their culture but the struggles that they went through as a nation. My goal in this paper is to not only explore the architecture itself but to also talk about its historical importance to the Cuban people.
I want to dive into the emblematic history of the Museum and how today it still plays a role in Cuban everyday life.
El Museo de la Revolucion was initially the Presidential Palace in Havana, Cuba. In 1909, Governor General Aubert decided to build a new venue for the Provincial Government where the old city wall used to be. According to an article by Barbara Maseda, “The design was by architects Rodolfo Maruri and Paul Belau”.
By the end of 1917, President Mario Garcia Menocal, took possession of the building and by 1918 it became the Presidential Palace. The building is an important part of post-revolutionary Cuban history. In March 1957, the palace was the target of an unsuccessful assassination attempt against Fulgencio Batista who at the time was the president of Cuba. Bullet holes from the failed attempt are still visible in the Palacio. The decision to establish the Palace as a museum that told the story of the Cuban Revolution came soon after the victory against the Batista dictatorship in 1959.
The horrors of the ousted dictatorship had been so gruesome, and the sacrifice of its opponents so heroic, that collecting the evidence and showing it to the world, seemed like the best way to showcase and represent the history. In 2010, it was declared National Monument.
In her article, Maseda explains, “The Museum descends chronologically from the top floor starting with Cuba’s pre-Columbian culture and extending to the present day.” The opulence of the building contrast with its surroundings. One example is the Carrara marble main staircase. The exterior walls are made of stone and the interior walls were made of reinforced concrete. The interior decoration was done by Tiffani Studios. Highlights were included such,h as El Salon de Los Espejos, which is a replica of the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, and a Polychrome titled cupola. Throughout the Museum you can find, four canvases by Esteban Valderrama and Mariano Miguel mounted on 18-carat gold sheets that grace the walls.Branches
According to Ciro Bianches article about El Museo de la Revolucion, “The Presidential Palace became a Museum to depict in a type of way the Cuban Revolution.” It was opened to the public to tell the history of these heroes who fought with their life for Cuba’s independence. The objects that were preserved from the war against Batista from 1953 to 1959 tell the story of the dictatorial regime that practiced torture and murder against its opponents. Evidence can be found throughout the floors of the building. From a memorial to the 18m yacht that carried Fidel Castro and other 81 revolutionaries from Mexico to Cuba, to planes, vehicles and weapons used during the war against Batista. In addition, the memorial includes a permanent flame burning in tribute to the eternal heroes of the motherland. El Museo de la Revolucion is an important point of reference when trying to understand how Cuba came to be what it is today.
The Museum was originally designed for Cuban visitors, from whom many of the objects are more interesting, given their ampler background about the events, or even their links to the history of the country. For many Cubans who lived through the war period and fought with Fidel, this Museum means a big “thank you” for putting an end to the Batista dictatorship. For many Cubans like myself, this monument represents emotion, culture, and history about who we are and the struggles that we have been through. In the article Bianche says, “Although it was initially designed for the Cuban public, it has now received more than 5 million visits from all over the world.” The intention of this Museum goes beyond just the Cuban people. It is for anyone interested in understating our culture and discovering this amazing history full of heroes and villains.
With a conservative ideology, the Palace showcases many of the aspects of the Cuban Revolution, from the cloth they wore to the telegrams that were sent between the revolutionaries. This Architectural Artifact explores the oppressed voices of the revolutionaries and how they fought with their lives for what they believed was right, not only for themselves but for the rest of the nation. Overall it promotes a balance and a more complete understanding of who they are.
In Conclusion, I can say that this Museum has a place in every Cuban heart. It represents them as a nation and holds their values in a sacred place for everyone’s reference. Not only did I cover Architecture as a whole, but the meaning behind this Historical Monument, which no doubt represents ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity, and courage.