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Past, Present and Future of the Silversmith Museum in Havana, Cuba
Specialists from the institution conceived the exhibitions Arte en metal en museos y en la filatelia (Art in metal in museums and in philately) organized by the specialist Daniel Vasconcelos; Dos veces arte (Two times art) which shows some of the metal work from the Restoration Cabinet and Arte en metal en museos, ayer y hoy (Art in metal in museums, then and now), with pieces made by artist craftsmen from the Asociación Cubana de Artesanos Artistas (Cuban Association of Artist Artisans) (ACAA in Spanish); as well as the incorporation of new pieces in their permanent collection. This was done as a celebration of the XII anniversary of its creation

Alicia Calzada, director from the Silversmith Museum, highlighted the will of the Historian of the City when he inaugurated the institution on the International Museum Day, when she presented the exhibitions. She also remarked the correct decision of the ICOM to dedicate this years slogan to the social action of museums. "In Cuba all the museums are in service of society, and I am not saying a slogan here. It is very rare to find something not in service of society in our country. That can be seen in the transformations that have taken place since the 1970s in the museum work."

She explained that the three exhibitions deal with the main aspects of the work of the museum: to study, to preserve and to exhibit the collection with a thread through which you may travel from the past to the present and towards the future.

On the other hand, Daniel Vasconcelos said that Arte en metal en museos y en la filatelia refers to different themes related to Cuban history and culture, all of them reflected in post stamps through jewels, sculptures, ironworks, coins, medals, decorations and objects made in metal. "Metal art covers much," said the researcher when he inaugurated the exhibition, which is the result of a detailed study of Cuban philately.

Dos veces arte lets people see, through images, some of the works made by the metal workshop from the Restoration Cabinet, since most of the renewed pieces are exhibited in several Museum Houses from the Historical Center. Specialists from the Cabinet explained how the task of recovering ancient objects demands skill, but also study and knowledge of the piece and of the materials with which they were created, in order to restitute what has been lost, but without letting the piece loose its historical and artistic values in some cases. In this way, there may be appreciated pictures from the restoration process of candelabra, weapons, armors and old cars that date back from several centuries.

Creators from the ACAA elaborated their proposals for Arte en metal en museos, ayer y hoy inspired in pieces from the permanent collection of the museum. This is the fruit of the methodological work done by the institution, not only with the guild of Plateros de San Eloy, but also with other publics that have been inserting themselves in their social and cultural project. In relation to this, the museum specialist Rosa Iris Pareds pointed out that along these twelve years; there has been an evolution in the silversmiths that is the result of the rich exchange they have established with the museum.

The work of research and assembling by the specialists to incorporate new pieces to the permanent collection of the heritage institution was also important in this anniversary party. Pocket watches from different time periods, with watch chains or turned into wonderful jewels through the hands of silversmiths are exhibited in the main gallery of the museum, among which stand out those that belonged to Juan Clemente Zenea and to Narciso López. The set, admirable through its diversity, allows people to know of the existence of the most important commercial houses from Havana, such as Cuervo y Salinero, El Trianón, La Acacia, Rio y Hermanos, among others.

The noble work of silversmith gave fame and grandeur to the city of Havana in past centuries. Today, that tradition is perpetuated in the citys Historical center, thanks to the work of the Silversmith Museum in the rescue of the guilds and their promotion and to the formation work developed by the Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos Workshop School to the beginning of that art form in Cuba, because since 1707, the silversmith Gregorio Tabares lived and had his workshop there.


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