Experience ¡Cuba! at COSI this Spring
A new exhibition celebrates the culture and biodiversity of Cuba, March 21 through Sept. 7.
Cuba is a place of exceptional biodiversity and cultural richness, and now, the subject of a new bilingual exhibition set to open for a limited time at COSI. ¡Cuba! will run March 21 through Sept. 7, 2020 in the American Museum of Natural History Special Exhibition Gallery. The exhibition will offer visitors fresh insights into this island nation just 94 miles from Florida’s shores. With a close look at Cuba’s unique natural history, including its native species, highly diverse ecosystems, and geology, ¡Cuba! also explores the country’s history and cultural traditions and highlights contemporary Cuban voices to inspire new perspectives on this dynamic country.
Cuba is the largest island nation in the Caribbean and one of the region’s most ecologically diverse countries. About 50 percent of its plants and 32 percent of its vertebrate animals are endemic, meaning they are found only on the island. The exhibition will include live animals, specimens, and lifelike models representing the island’s distinctive wildlife, from a venomous mammal to the world’s smallest bird.
The exhibition also explores Cuba’s dazzling reefs, mysterious caves and expansive wetlands. On the southwest side of Cuba, the Zapata Peninsula contains the largest and most important wetlands in the Caribbean. Covering 1.5 million acres, the immense Zapata Biosphere Reserve includes marshes, peat bogs, mangroves, coral reefs and forests that support a complex web of life, including frogs, turtles, fish, shellfish, birds and countless plants and insects, making its conservation a top priority for the entire region. An immersive reconstruction of this reserve will introduce the exhibition’s visitors to these animals, including the two species of crocodiles that live in Cuba: the Cuban crocodile and the American crocodile. Both have suffered steep declines from overhunting and habitat loss. With only a few thousand remaining, the Cuban crocodile has the smallest population and the smallest geographical range of any crocodile. The Zapata Wetlands are the only place where significant numbers of this critically endangered species still live in the wild.
Elsewhere in the ¡Cuba! exhibition, visitors will see a long, open city boulevard emulating a street you might find in Cuba. Tables lining the exhibition’s street encourage visitors to try their hand at Cuban dominoes, which, unlike American dominoes, have tiles with up to nine dots; enjoy the aroma of a cup of Cuban coffee, called a cafecito; listen to music you might find on a Cuban radio station today; and check out Cuba’s 16 baseball teams.
A 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air reveals the story behind the vintage cars that famously rumble down Cuban streets. From 1959 until recently, the Cuban state tightly restricted car imports and sales. At the same time, the United States’ embargo banned most exports to Cuba, including car parts, so Cubans have found ingenious ways to keep old cars running, despite a shortage of spare parts.
The exhibition is included with COSI Membership, and $5 with COSI general admission. For hours and more information, visit cosi.org.
*Our facilities are currently closed to the public to help protect our staff and patrons from the spread of COVID-19*