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Havana Revisited: An Architectural Heritage

With the dramatic easing of relations between the United States and Cuba, Americans are renewing their interest in Cuba and their curiosity about in Havana in particular. The traveling exhibition Havana Revisited: An Architectural Heritage provides an intimate view of Havana at this pivotal period, when the city’s architecture and public spaces face inevitable changes after many decades of relative inactivity. By spotlight Havana’s most important buildings and public spaces, the images capture the city’s unique architecture and history. Havana’s urban landscape provides an important window on the various forces that have shaped the city, from her settlement as a fortified trading post through successive periods of Spanish colonial rule, independence, United States protectorate, revolution, and self-rule.

In the exhibition and related hardcover book, photographer Cathryn Griffith juxtaposes colored postcard images of Havana from the early 1900s with recent color photographs taken from the same vantage point. Griffith culled the historical images from her collection of several hundred vintage postcards of Havana, and made the corresponding photographs during multiple recent trips to Cuba. The visual intrigue created by this comparison of old and new stimulates the viewer to think about how we choose to preserve or destroy our buildings and monuments, and how these elements come together over time to form our perceptions of a leading city.

Havana Revisited captures the essence of a city where past and present co-mingle in mysteries ways. By juxtaposing images of old and new – and accompanied by astute prose – this exquisite book bridges the expanse of time and does something extraordinary: it takes you on a journey to an era long ago while remaining rooted in the here and now. ¡Viva La Habana!

— T. J. English, New York Times best-selling author of Havana Nocturne

Offering a rare and intimate view of Havana from both historical and present-day perspectives, the exhibition documents the city’s past and present architecture, prior to any dramatic changes in the future. It is an invaluable guide for people interested in the evolution of Cuban culture and the international influences that shaped it during past centuries. It provides detailed information to those interested in the broader topic of Latin American history, and to students and practitioners of architecture, urban planning, and historic preservation. And it is of tremendous interest to Cuban Americans and others who anticipate visiting and exploring this vibrant country.

This vision given to us by someone coming from another country, with trained sight, allows us to discover things that we pass by and don’t see.

— Mario Coyula, Cuban architect, urban planner and critic

Havana Revisited: An Architectural Heritage consists of thirty 16 x 20 frames (each containing a pair of images), maps, label text and wall quotes by Havana residents, and a 20-minute video. The accompanying hardcover book Havana Revisited: An Architectural Heritage, published in April 2010 by W.W. Norton & Co., combines over 350 illustrations with twelve essays written by renowned architects, historians, scholars, preservationists and urban planners in Cuba and the United States, who present a range of different and compelling views.