Cuban photographers have played a key role in capturing through their lens the social reality of the island in modern history. Cuban photographers like Hernandez, Arias and others offered a unique vision of the social revolt that Cuba was going through during the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista that led to the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Over the next decade, the photographic works of Salas, Korda and Corrales somehow became the official romantic image of the new government as shown in the 1st Cuban Photography Exhibition that took place in 1966 at Casa de Las Americas. The next year, Cuban photography was shown abroad for the first time in Mexico which led to the exhibition History of Cuba’s Photography in 1976 also in Mexico that put the photography of the Caribbean island on the map.
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Cuba Cultural Tours features Photography Tours to Cuba for Photographers Worldwide
Photography Tours to Cuba are the Crown Jewel of our Cuba Cultural Tours!
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Cuba photography tours by Authentic Cuba Travel usually go above and beyond simply taking tour participants to amazing natural settings, picturesque towns and UNESCO World Heritage Sites with the aim of taking amazing pictures. Our Cuba cultural tours for Americans also intent to challenge photography professionals to capture through their lens what makes Cuba such a unique culture not only in the Caribbean region but in the world. And this photography tour to Cuba is no exception.
As you tour Old Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad taking stirring photographs of colonial buildings and townscapes, you will learn more about Cuba’s Spanish roots, non-commercial society and stimulating way of life. While photographing the natural beauty of Vinales Valley, the Sugar Mills Valley and Topes de Collantes you will discover Cuba’s unique geological origins and distinct landscape. Cuba cultural travel for Americans also features people-to-people encounters, where you will come to appreciate the warm and friendliness of the Cuban people with whom you will establish lifetime connections.
Take A Sneak Peak at the Cuban Destinations You Will Visit Outside Havana
Authentic Cuba Travel invites photographers worldwide to joint this photography tour to Cuba that will travel to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites and two mountain ranges which provides a rare opportunity to capture amazing images of the most authentic destinations and attractions of the largest island in the Caribbean. All from the comfort of great hotels, modern transportation and by the hand of Cuba's best tour guides and travel experts. No wonder Cuba cultural tours are one of our most sought-after specialty tours to the Caribbean island.
To discover the authentic Cuba means also to take the time to meet with Cuban leading photographers and visit contemporary photography institutions. Therefore, Cuba tour participants will have the opportunity to get an up-close and personal look into the life and photographic artwork of Cuban photographers like Rene Pena, Juan Carlos Alom and Cirenaica Moreira; and enjoy private visits to the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba and the Cuba’s Photography Gallery (Fototeca de Cuba) which houses the largest collection of Cuban photography in the world for an exploration of Cuba’s unique photographic patrimony.
Our Cuba photography tour has a very detailed and full itinerary, but you will note that it still offers time for spontaneous photo ops throughout the journey. Below, you will find the itinerary for our tour.
US Cultural Organizations can sponsor and organize travel to Cuba under the General License for Public Performances, Workshops, Clinics, Exhibitions and Athletic or non-Athletic Competitions.
U.S. citizens can travel to Cuba under this general license to participate in a public performance, clinic, workshop, athletic competition or exhibition in the Caribbean island if meeting certain OFAC criteria.
Such as; the event held in Cuba is open for attendance by the Cubans. U.S. profits (after cost) will be donated to an independent Cuban organization or U.S. based charity for the benefit of the Cuban people and to promote the people-to-people exchange in between American and Cuban citizens.
Clinics and workshops in Cuba must be held under the auspices and sponsorship of an authorized US organization.
We can take care of all details both in North America and in Cuba, including VISA and flight arrangements to Cuba’s main destinations via USA ports (Miami, Tampa, New York, or other) or through third countries like Canada and Mexico. Authorized US organizations can travel through a third country subject to the same restrictions and requirements as those flying directly from USA.
At Authentic Cuba Travel, we have been organizing such event related travel experiences to Cuba from the United States of America for years with great success.
Photography Cuba Tours Highlights
Discover the Historical Centre of Havana, a UNESCO World Site.
Tour Vinales Valley, declared as a UNESCO World Cultural Site.
Travel to Authentic Cienfuegos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Travel to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trinidad.
Photograph the Natural Beauty of Topes de Collantes.
Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sugar Mill Valley.
People-to-People Exchanges with Cuban Photographers.
Journey through Cuba's Patrimony of Photography (Photo Gallery).
Tour of the Photography Faculty at Cuba's National Art Schools.
Guided Tour of the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Cuban Collection).
Exchange with Tobacco Growing Farmers at Pinar del Rio.
Tour of Hamel Street, an Afro Cuban Heritage in Centro Habana.
Explore the Experimental Printing Workshop.
Be Welcomed at Cuba's Premier Photography Institutions.
Photo shooting opportunities are abundant in Vinales Valley with the prettiest tobacco plantations of the country. Meeting photo-friendly farmers and local Cubans will also enrich your photography expedition to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cultural travel to Cuba wouldn’t be complete without exploring the mogotes, unique hills found rarely elsewhere in the world, and local tourist attractions like the Cueva del Indio, Vinales Downtown and the Prehistoric Mural.
Cuba cultural tours feature visits to premier Cuban cultural institutions. Treasuring original photography works by Cuban masters like Korda and Salas, among many others, the Photo Gallery of Cuba contains the most valuable collection of photos, photographic materials and documents in the world. A photography collection that grows every day with the addition of the newest photographic artwork produced by today’s leading Cuban photographers. For sure, the Fototeca is a mandatory visit in any Cuba photography travel.
Iconic black and white photos like those of Che Guevara by Cuban photographer Alberto Korda played a key role in making the image of the Cuban Revolution popular and somehow romantic around the world in the early 1960’s. Our Cuba cultural trips delve into the archives of Cuban photography.
At Authentic Cuba Travel, we take very seriously the job of finding the best photographers and photography artwork to show participants in our Cuba Tours. For that reason, our tour directors personally visit the studios of Cuban photographers at least once a year to see their latest photos and artistic production. Luis D’Aguiar (left) revisits one of the latest collections by Cuban master Rene “Pupy” Pena (right). Cuba cultural travel to Cuba won`t be an authentic Cuba immersion without people to people exchanges to learn side by side with Cubans.
Cuba cultural tours will take you to explore destinations like Cienfuegos, a Caribbean city in the southern cost of central Cuba that was founded in the 19th century by French settlers that were fleeing from La Louisiana after the US purchased that territory from Napoleon in 1803. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, its historical center contains neoclassical buildings of great beauty including theatres, churches and palaces that we will explore during this photography journey to the largest island in the Greater Antilles.
As part of your photography tour to the authentic Cuba, we will travel to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trinidad, one of the first seven settlements founded by the Spaniards in Cuba in the early 16th century that contains one of the best preserve historical cores in all The Americas. With a colonial atmosphere like no other in Cuba, Trinidad town scape today looks like a city frozen in the second half of the 19th century with barely traces of modern times. For sure, a treat of our cultural tours in Cuba!
One of the most photographed natural settings of Cuba, the Valley of The Sugar Mills contains the ruins of dozens of small 19th century sugar mills, slave barracks, estate houses, and other remains of sugar plantations of the period that we will explore during our Cuba photography tours to the authentic Cuba.
With a cool microclimate of its own, the Escambray Mountain Range is home to a wide array of Cuban native bird species like the Cuban Trogon or the Cuban Parrot which makes it an ideal destination for wildlife photography professionals. Travel photography professionals will also find it hard to resist as it contains the prettiest coffee plantations, authentic Cuban farms and unbelievable human settlements like Topes de Collantes. With slopes bathed by vines, lichens, giant ferns and pine and coniferous forest, the natural beauty of the region makes it a paradise for photographers.
Looking for Cuba Cultural Tours from USA? Check these Cuba Tours
Cuba is the most photography friendly island in the Greater Antilles. And over the next week you will immerse yourself into this Caribbean photographers’ paradise as part of your cultural travel in Cuba.
Your cultural journey into the authentic Cuba starts today upon arrival at the Capital city of Cuba: Havana with a population of 2.1 million inhabitants.
After meeting your Authentic Cuba Travel tour guide and bus driver, you will take a short bus ride to Havana’s downtown in Vedado Neighbourhood where the National Hotel of Cuba is located.
Please, listen carefully to all instructions provided by your tour guide who specializes in cultural trips to Cuba about street smarts and facilities in and around the National Hotel of Cuba. Please do notice that buffet breakfast is complimentary at La Veranda restaurant.
Day 2. Sunday 18 June 2017. Photographing Vinales Valley
Morning: our photographic adventure kicks off today as we travel to Cuba’s most Western province, Pinar del Rio where the famous Valley of Vinales is found. There are many reasons that combine to make the valley one of the most photogenic landscapes of Cuba. Among those the distinct tobacco plantations and the mogotes, a kind of flat top freestanding hills found nowhere else in Cuba.
The authentic Cuba experience include visiting local tobacco plantations and meeting with camera-friendly local farmers who has been passing down from generation to generation the culture of producing the best tobacco leaves in the world. Our Cuba cultural tours woudn`t be a complete cultural immersion into the authentic Cuba without these sort of people-to-people exchanges where North American photographers and Cuban citizens get to know each other on personal basis.
We will also visit the Mural de La Prehistoria, a mural painting by the side of a gigantic mogote that showcases prehistoric animals whose remains have been found in the Vinales region over the centuries.
We will make a stop at Cueva del Indio for a typical countryside lunch and some refreshments before embarking in the exploration of local caves.
Afternoon: our Authentic Cuba Travel guide will lead the expedition into the Cueva del Indio (Indian Cave) offering unique photo shooting opportunities. The cave traverses one of the famous mogotes of Vinales and it is the result of the erosion of an underground river that runs through the cave. A boat ride will take us to the exit of the cave at the other side of the hill.
The goal of our cultural tours to Cuba today is that tour participants capture through their lens not only the beauty of the breathtaking landscape of Vinales Valley but the prettiness of its picturesque townscape with unique colonial architecture. The Cuba explorer will have some time to wander at leisure Vinales Downtown to photograph buildings like Casa de La Cultura, the main Vinales Church and others around Jose Marti Park.
Evening: back in Havana city, we recommend our photographers to go for some photo shooting opportunities of Havana’s nightlife. Cultural tours in Cuba should provide ample time for personal photo shooting explorations. A great place to explore is a Jazz club located only a couple of blocks from your hotel, known as La Zorra y El Cuervo (optional/ not included).
Day 3. Monday 19 June 2017. Old Havana Photo Shooting Ops
Morning: today we spend most of the day in Old Havana, the historical center of Havana city that has been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to the array of colonial buildings of historical or architectural importance found within an area of 2.14 square kilometers.
The first stop of today`s Cuba cultural travel is at the Scale Model of Old Havana for a virtual guided tour of the historical center led by renowned architect Miguel Coyula. The model provides an insightful understanding of the way the city grew over time. Color coded buildings and landmarks make it easy to understand the layout and expansion of the city.
Before embarking on a walking tour of Old Havana, a treat of our Cuba cultural tours for Americans, we will enjoy some traditional Cuban dishes at La Mina restaurant. There’s also a host band that provides live entertainment as we sip on a refreshing mojito.
Afternoon: from stunning colonial fortifications to magnificent palaces and colorful characters, photo shooting opportunities are abundant within the historical center. And the best way to take amazing pictures is by foot and by the hand of our experienced Authentic Cuba Travel tour guide. All the Cuban guides of our cultural tours to Cuba from USA are university graduates with many years of experience under their belts.
Surrounded by striking buildings that were once the symbol of Spanish power in the island, the Square of Arms is the oldest colonial plaza in the old city and the place where our tour will start.
Worth mentioning are the Palacio de Los Capitanes Generales showcasing the most imposing Cuban baroque architecture in the island; the Fortress of the Royal Force, the oldest existing Spanish military castle in The Americas; the Palace of the Counts of Santovenia that houses today the upscale Santa Isabel Hotel; and the Templete building on the east side of the square that marks the original site of foundation of the Villa de San Cristobal de La Habana back in the early 16th century.
Next our Cuba photography tours will take us to explore the beautiful Plaza de La Catedral. Perhaps the prettiest and most intimate of all colonial squares, the plaza takes its name from the Cathedral of Havana which theatrical facade is enclosed by asymmetrical towers and baroque decor.
Meeting fellow Cuban artists is a distinctive component of our cultural trips to Cuba. Learning side by side with Cubans at the Experimental Printing Workshop is a chance not to miss by travelers. Housed in a spacious colonial building, this is Cuba’s only print workshop that works as a cooperative for over 50 print makers. This is a people-to-people encounter that will shed lights on the daily struggle of Cuban artists to advance their artworks despite economic shortages.
Another photogenic colonial square not to miss is the Plaza de San Francisco. Serving in colonial times to provide Spanish galleons with supplies and water, to stockpile goods that arrive at the harbour and to welcome new Spanish immigrants arriving in the island, the plaza was the commercial square of the city per excellence.
As we have seen so far, colonial squares were created to serve different purposes for the people of Havana. The last square we will visit today is the Old Square, a plaza that was mainly used as a civic square for people to gather and discuss the daily political, economical and social events. Please do take notice that there are no government or religious buildings in the surroundings as we saw in the plazas we visited earlier.
Cultural travel to Cuba showcases photo shooting opportunities from the harbour side Almacenes de San Lorenzo, a former warehouse from where we can take amazing photos of picturesque townscapes at the other side of the Bay of Havana. Today the facility houses the largest craft market of Cuba and souvenir shopping is arguably unavoidable.
Evening: nightlife photo shooting ops in Havana are everywhere, yet one of the best locations is at the Fortress of San Carlos de La Cabana. Located atop a hill at the other side of Havana's Bay, it provides a breath taking view over the entire city of Havana at night. It is also the backdrop of Cuba’s oldest standing tradition, the Fire of the Cannon of 9 O'Clock attended by hundreds of Cubans every night.
Day 4. Tuesday 20 June 2017. Cuba's Photography Patrimony
Morning: Cuba cultural travel features meetings with established cultural institutions. This morning we will make contact with Cuba’s official photography professionals as we visit the state-run Fototeca de Cuba, the most prestigious photo gallery of the Caribbean island which owns the largest collection of Cuban photos and photographic materials elsewhere in the world.
This is a great opportunity for participants of our Cuba cultural tours to establish connections with prestigious personalities and decision-makers within Cuba’s photography scene. It also represents a good chance to revisit Cuba’s photographic history and enjoy current temporary photo exhibitions.
Next we will go to Centro Habana municipality for a photo shooting opportunity of a different kind at Callejon de Hamel. This is a unique alleyway where complete buildings have been covered with thematic murals and sculptures related to African origin religions with strong hold on Cuba’s population. It is all the brainchild of painter Salvador Gonzalez who started the project in 1990 with the aim of preserving and paying homage the cultural heritage of the neighbourhood.
Another ceramist and painter who have covered entire blocks with his art is Jose Fuster. And next we are off to Fusterland, the artist’s magical land, a sort of living art gallery found at the coastal town of Jaimanitas. As photo-friendly as it gets, Jaimanitas is a fishermen town of humble people and great traditions that the artist attempts to showcase through his ceramics, sculptures and paintings. We will have lunch at the artist’s studio and personal residence.
Afternoon: cultural travel in Cuba must include visits to the studios of independent Cuba artists. Now we are heading back to Vedado district to visit the photography studios and private residences of some of Cuba’s leading contemporary photographers the likes of Pene “Pupy” Pena, Juan Carlos Alom and Cirenaica Moreira.
Evening: to call it the day, we will visit a non-for-profit, non-governmental art institution that consistently promotes the work of Cuba’s foremost photographers and visual artists, The Ludwig Foundation of Cuba. This is another of those special moments of our authentic Cuba tours that set our Cuba photography tours apart from the crowd.
Day 5. Wednesday 21 June 2017. Cuba Explorer Hats On!
Morning: it is time to wear our Cuba Explorer hats and go off the beaten path to explore picturesque colonial towns, amazing mountainous villages and breathtaking sugar cane valleys. Our Cuba cultural tours advance discovery and educational opportunities never found within the walls of all inclusive beach resorts, and over the next two days we will have the pleasure of capturing images of the authentic Cuba outside the reach of Cuba’s mainstream tourism.
Our first major stopover is at the city of Cienfuegos, also known as the City of Domes and The Pearl of the South because of its many domed neoclassical buildings and its natural beauty. The city seats on the Bahia de Cienfuegos (Cienfuegos Bay) that opens to the Caribbean Sea and it is guarded by the Castillo de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles de Jagua, a Spanish-built fortress that was erected with the purpose to deny access to the city to pirates and corsairs during colonial times.
Just as we arrive in the city, we will go for lunch at Palacio del Valle before our afternoon exploration. We encourage tour participants to stretch their legs by climbing to the rooftop of this amazing Moorish-style palace which provides a great location to take pictures of the Bahia de Cienfuegos, the neoclassical domed cityscape, the Punta Gorda neighbourhood with its magnificent New-Orleans style houses and the unfinished Nuclear Power Plant at the west side of the bay.
Afternoon: as part of the cultural travel to Cuba, we will embark on a guided walking tour of the historical center of Cienfuegos. After a brief explanation about the origins of the city and its foundation by French settlers in the early 19th century, our Authentic Cuba Travel tour guide will give tour participants free time to take pictures on their own for a while.
The center of our photographic operations will be the Jose Marti Park which is surrounded by the most magnificent neoclassical buildings in the city such as the Teatro Tomas Terry (1895), a 950-seat hall that stands in the north side of the square and contains original elements such as the mural paintings, the ceiling frescoes and the wood seats.
Another building that has managed to preserve original elements in good condition it is the Catedral de La Purisima Concepcion with French stained-glass windows depicting the 12 apostles, it stands on the east side of the square. On the opposite site we find Palacio Ferrer, a domed blue building that serves as Casa de La Cultura today. If you are looking for a high location to take panoramic pictures of the square surroundings, you can go up to the mirador of this palace.
Before leaving the city, we will spend some time at the Provincial Art Gallery “Maroya” that has an extensive display of local arts and handicrafts and even antiques for sale. You can buy all sorts of arts and crafts and import them legally to US as an authorized traveler of our Cuba cultural tours from USA.
It is time to say farewell to the Pearl of the South and continue on our Cuba photography odyssey to colonial Trinidad. We will spend the next two nights at all-inclusive Trinidad del Mar, a Caribbean beach resort with entertaining evening venues and great atmosphere.
Day 6. Thursday 22 June 2017. Trinidad, an Authentic Cuba Destination
Morning: Trinidad is one of those authentic Cuban cities in which you can experience overwhelming landscapes, incredible mountain views, amazing beaches and great colonial atmosphere all at once. No wonder UNESCO decided to include it in its list of World Heritage Sites in 1988. Showing little traces of modern times, its historical center is a photogenic living museum city where it is hard to contain from pressing the shutter endlessly. Sadly, not many cultural trips to Cuba include travel to such genuine Cuban destinations.
Our Authentic Cuba Travel tour guide will take us first to pay a visit to the Museum of Trinitarian Architecture. Housed in the former residence of the Iznagas (1819), the museum contains traditional architectural elements and local building materials that serve to explain the distinctive colonial architecture of Trinidad.
Standing on the north side of Plaza Mayor, the main colonial square in the historical center, we find the Iglesia Parroquial de La Sagrada Trinidad which contains an original Cuban-hardwood altar created by local artists and one of the most sacred religious objects of the catholic faith in central Cuba, the cross of El Cristo de la Veracruz.
Next to the church we find the former residence of the Condes de Brunet that houses today the Romantic Museum. Showcasing European porcelain, original pieces of art and other domestic decorating elements that once belonged to Trinidad’s wealthiest families, the museum also offers great panoramic views of Peninsula de Ancon and the Plaza Mayor surroundings from its balconies.
From the balconies of the Museo Romantico, we can also spot one of the most photographed buildings of Trinidad, the bell tower of the former San Francisco Convent which we will visit next. Even though the convent is long gone, the bell tower remains and serves as an outstanding location to capture through your lens amazing images of Trinidad’s cityscape and the landscape of the Escambray Mountain range that somehow serves as a backdrop to the city.
A short bus ride is in order now if we want to understand the origins of the wealth that financed Trinidad’s townscape in the 19th century. And we are off to a hill in the outskirts of Trinidad, known as Loma del Puerto where a 200-meter-high lookout point has been established to enjoy a panoramic 360 degree view of the Valley of the Sugar Mills, one of the largest sugar producing regions in the 19th century where the ruins of dozens of sugar mills can be found today.
Before heading back to the hotel for some lunch and refreshments, we will make one last stop at Casa del Alfarero to meet the Santanders, an authentic Cuba family of pottery makers who has been making ceramics for generations using the traditional potter’s wheel.
After some complimentary lunch and refreshments back at the hotel, all included in your Cuba cultural travel for US citizens, we can head back to the colonial town for personal explorations of the city, some more photo shooting, or we can simply relax by the beach or swimming pool while sipping on a mojito or cuba libre or daiquiri or just...any Cuban drink you fancy...it is all inclusive!
Evening: there are several options for dancing to Cuban live music tonight. You can stay at the hotel and enjoy the live shows and programmed venues or you can experience a more authentic Cuban immersion at Casa de La Trova, a favourite hangout for locals and foreigners alike.
Day 7. Friday 23 June 2017. Taking Pictures in Topes de Collantes
Morning: today we will take photos of one of Cuba’s most beautiful mountainous areas, The Escambray Mountains, the second highest mountain range in Cuba extending some 90 kilometers from west to east along the southern cost of central Cuba.
The mountains are home to small communities, picturesque coffee farms and authentic Cuban villages like Topes de Collantes, a national park and the largest human settlement in The Escambray located about 800 meters above the sea level.
Today we will need more than a modern air conditioning coach to find great locations to photograph, so we will board an ex-military Russian truck to do the job. The expedition will start right at our hotel Trinidad del Mar. Be ready for a “rough” ride and one of the most beautiful ones of your life!
Along the way, we will enjoy slopes covered by pine forests, coniferous forests and gigantic ferns. We will also spot Cuba’s highest peaks like Pico San Juan that stands 1,140 meters high, coffee plantations and native birds of Cuba.
Around mid-day we will arrive at former coffee plantation La Codina. We will seat for lunch at the the one-time Spanish state house for a typical Cuban lunch.
Afternoon: we will return to the National Hotel in Havana city.
Day 8. Saturday 24 June 2017. Bye Bye Authentic Cuba
Today marks the end of our Cuba photography tour. Your Authentic Cuba Travel tour guide and bus driver will help you check out of the National Hotel, and escort you to the international airport Jose Marti in Havana city.
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Authentic Cuba Travel
Cuba Cultural Tours
Authentic Cuba Travel's cultural tours are hosted by Cuba’s key Culture ministries, organizing committees and Cuban culture personalities. Travel with the peace of mind of knowing you are in the best hands!
Cuba cultural tour participants are provided with “All Access” pass to attend all venues of Cuban cultural international events.
Guided tour of the Experimental Printing Workshop, a cultural cooperative of young Cuban artists.
Tour the Wifredo Lam Center, a cultural institution devoted to the study and promotion of contemporary visual arts in developing countries.
Private visits to the studios of Cuban contemporary artists such as Jose Fuster, Alicia Leal, Juan Moreira, Rene Pena and others prominent artists are part of Authentic Cuba Travel’s cultural tours.
Travel to UNESCO World Heritage cities such as Old Havana, Vinales, Cienfuegos Historical Center, Colonial Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, and other Cuban cities.
Guided tour of the Museum of Fine Arts' Cuban Collection, one of the most important cultural institutions in Cuba, where we see the evolution of Cuba's visual arts over the last 300 years.
Exchange with Cuban and international musicians, exhibitors, publishers and culture personalities.
Visit to Callejon de Hamel. An alleyway street where an effort of cultural rescue led by fine artist Salvador González has been underway since 1990.
Participate in the most traditional and popular cultural ceremonies in Cuba such as The Fire of the Cannon of 9 O’Clock.
Warm Greetings! I’m Luis D'Aguiar, and I warmly invite you to join our cultural journeys to Cuba, the least commercialized, largest, and most exciting island in the Caribbean. Cuban culture is a very diverse cultural blend of African, European and North American design reflecting the diverse demographic of the island. I studied at the University of Havana, and guided hundreds of cultural groups from the most prestigious North American museums of arts before moving to Canada. Today Cuban contemporary art remains one of the few export items for collectors. Come and join us! Need help, send me a message.