Cuba’s art scene is sizzling hot, and part of the reason is that it has fine museums like Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) that preserve and promote the country’s luminous arts. The museum encompasses two distinct locations. One, in the original Palacio de Bella’s Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), is dedicated to Arte Cubano (Cuban Art); the other, close to at the Centro Asturiano near Parque Central, exhibits international art.
The latter collection consists of paintings, sculptures, drawings and ceramics from Greece, Egypt, Europe and Latin America dating back to as early as 500 B.C. A rich collection of works by Spanish painters such as Joaquin Sorolla, Murillo, Zurbaran, Constable, Bouguereau and Van Mieris are also permanently on display in the museum. Don’t miss Venetian master Francesco Guardi’s Lagoon from the Fondamenta Nuove, one of his early works. The 5th century Greek Panathenaic amphora, the Egyptian God Amon sculpture and the Fayum portraits are highlights on the second floor of the museum.
Perhaps the most alluring attractions at the museum are works by some of Cuban’s trailblazing heavyweights, one of whom is Wifredo Lam, Cuban’s most celebrated surrealist painter, or better known as Cuba’s Picasso. La Silla, “The Chair,” is one of the artist’s most renowned works that is permanently exhibited at the museum. The artist combined cubism and surrealism with a unique Cuban flare – the mythical Cuban jungle to create this painting.
Housed also in the Palacio de Bellas Artes are works by some pioneering Cuban artists, from Victor Manuel Garcia, Amelia Pelaez, Carlos Enriquez to Neo-expressionist artist such as Antonia Eiriz and abstract artist Raul Martinez. If you are an avid art aficionado, be sure to clear out at least a day to check out this museum. The museum can provide an English-speaking tour guide, but requires a 48-hour advance booking.
Address: Centro Habana, Havana, Cuba
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm (Tuesday – Saturday); 10am-2pm (Sunday)
Tel: +53 7 861 0241
Admission: $5 CUC for one location and $8 for two locations.