Reports from the Field

Cuba's National Art Schools: Reassessing Utopia

Report from the Field; presented by Eduardo Luis Rodriguez, Chair, and Docomomo Cuba Author, "The Havana Guide: Modern Architecture 1925-1965'

Domed brick roof system of the School of Ballet, showing biological growth and water damages, 2015

Born out of the political utopian aspirations of the Cuban Revolution, the dramatic brick and terra-cotta National Art Schools on the site of the Havana Country Club represent a fleeting moment in the history of Latin American modernism. Founded in 1961, the domed and vaulted forms were designed with the intention to create the "most beautiful art academy in the world." But given changing policies of the new Cuban government, only two of the five schools that were designed were completed.

Following years of neglect, a decision was made in 1999 to restore and complete the schools, and WMF included them on the World Monuments Watch in both 2000 and 2002. Rodríguez will discuss the complexities of recent restoration and rebuilding efforts, and will reflect on the schools' future in light of Cuba's evolving circumstances.

Cuban architect and architectural historian Eduardo Luis Rodríguez has spearheaded the study and promotion of twentieth century architecture in Cuba. He has served as curator of several major architecture exhibitions and authored numerous publications. Currently President of the Cuban Chapter of Docomomo International, he is a member of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Twentieth-century Heritage, and he served as a member of the Advisory Board for the current Museum of Modern Art exhibition Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980.

World Monuments Fund Reports from the Field is a series of informal presentations given throughout the year at our Empire State Building headquarters in New York City. Guests enjoy the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of heritage conservation efforts by experts working in the field worldwide.

WMF supporters are invited to attend our next Report from the Field.

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