American Museum of Natural History to host Cuba exhibit

NEW YORK (AP) " The American Museum of Natural History is presenting a bilingual exhibit that explores Cuba's biodiversity and culture.

The exhibition is called "Cuba!" and opens Nov. 21. It was developed in collaboration with Cuba's National Museum of Natural History under an agreement signed in the summer in Havana.

The wide-ranging exhibition includes photographs and quotes from Cubans, a display on the cultivation of tobacco, a film about Cuba's history and lifelike models representing the island's wildlife.

"What we wanted with this exhibit is to take people beyond the headlines to what they may not know or expect about Cuba," said curator Ana Luz Porzecanski, director of the museum's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. "Cuba is much more than its wonderful music or Cuban cigars or old cars. Cuba is also a fascinating nation of remarkable biodiversity."

The exhibit discusses a shrew-like mammal called an almiqui, which secretes venomous saliva through a groove in its front teeth, and the bee hummingbird, considered the smallest bird in the world, among other creatures.

The United States and Cuba, a Caribbean island nation, are just 90 miles apart but had frigid relations for decades. They announced in December 2014 that they were restoring diplomatic ties, which were broken in 1961 after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and installed a communist government.

Porzecanski said the exhibit is not necessarily a result of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the nations although "that was helpful to our joint work." The museum, she said, has been collaborating with Cuban colleagues for more than 100 years.

Esther Perez Lorenzo, director of the Cuban museum, said that cooperation will continue.

The exhibit will run through Aug. 13, 2017.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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