Cuba’s tourist history comes to life

Natalie Montaner/Staff Writer

Cuba is often a melancholic subject in the hearts of many Miami residents, including some faculty and even students at the University. By donating her private collection to the University, Elena Kurstin, who is responsible for collecting the pieces in the Elena Kurstin Cuban Memorabilia Collection, is helping to bring life and honor to what was once a tropical paradise for tourists and home to many of our fellow Miamians as well.

With the decaying economy of this communist nation and the struggle for cash growing steadily, Cubans began to sell off this memorabilia during the 90s. The U.S. trade embargo on Cuba heavily limits and restricts the exchange of goods; therefore, the exact process of how Elena Kurstin was able to acquire her collection through eBay and at the Miami International book fair is a bit hazy.

It seems very likely that Cubans sold these items privately to dealers in other countries first, which in turn made them accessible to the U.S. population and available for purchase. Vintage pieces of maps, postcards, magazines, and even travel brochures from Cuba comprise this mini exhibit in the Green Library and bring students an opportunity to view bits of the island’s history.

This collection is also one way of remembering the thriving tourist haven that Cuba once was and the many ways it advertised in order to appeal to foreigners. No doubt a nostalgic little collection for many Miamians, the collection is something that can be greatly appreciated by many of the students and faculty members that make their way through the library every day.

The varied pieces of memorabilia are being stored in glass casings, making it both easy to view and ensuring its preservation in the populous campus spot. Hanging against the walls are also some framed travel posters. The Elena Kurstin Cuban Memorabilia Collection is on display through mid-March on the second floor of the Steve and Dorothea Green Library at the Modesto Maidique Campus.