Cuba Won’t Loan Art to Bronx Museum After All

"Wild Noise/Ruido Salvaje" exhibit at the Bronx Museum will go on, but not quite as planned.

The National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana. Photo: Shutterstock

The “Wild Noise/Ruido Salvaje” American/Cuban art exhibit at the Bronx Museum of the Arts will go on, but not quite as planned.

In 2015, the Bronx Museum lent more than 80 pieces from its permanent collection to the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuba. The loan, which included original photographs by Andy Warhol and other icons of American art history, was meant to be half of a two-country exhibition, the other half occurring in 2016 when the National Museum reciprocated.

First that reciprocation was delayed, rescheduled for February 2017. Then it was canceled after Cuban officials decided not to allow their works to travel to the United States. The delay was because of questions over whether state-owned art works from Cuba (and they all are state-owned) could be subject to seizure in the U.S. to satisfy American property claims over confiscations that happened in Cuba when Castro took power in 1959. It may have been canceled for the same reason despite a ruling from the State Department protecting such works, or due to diplomatic uncertainties under the Trump administration. Nothing has been confirmed.

With more than 100 works from Cuba’s national collection scheduled to arrive, it would have been the largest collaboration between Cuban and United States museums in half a century. In their place, the Bronx Museum has assembled an alternative show with more than 60 pieces pulled from public and private collections held outside of Cuba but representing many of the same artists.

Holly Block, executive director of the Bronx Museum, hesitates to say that she is disappointed, and hopes that such a collaboration is still in the future for both museums. She also said the curators from the National Museum were helping with the alternative exhibit.

The alternative exhibition keeps the same title “Wild Noise/ Ruido Salvaje,” and will open on February 17. Nearly three dozen Cuban and Cuban-American artists will be featured, many of whose art has never before been on public display. The show will continue through July 4.

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