Cuba, US join hands to protect Hemingway's legacy
Updated: 2015-06-21 16:16
Stephen Terry (2nd L), celebrates his 2013 "Papa" Hemingway Look-Alike Contest victory with previous winners at Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West, Florida, July 20, 2013. Terry, 56, beat 125 other contestants. It was the Palm Harbor, Florida software developer's seventh try at the competition staged during Key West's annual Hemingway Days festival that ends Sunday, July 21. [Photo/Agencies]
The announcement was made by Cuba's National Council for Cultural Heritage and the US Finca Vigia Foundation.X The two institutions have joined together once again to protect the 1954 Nobel laureate's legacy by building a laboratory to restore and conserve the writer's belongings from his Cuban home, which is now a popular museum, said Director of the US foundation Mary Jo Adams.
Hemingway stayed in Cuba for a long period of time, from 1939 until just before he committed suicide on July 2, 1961. The writer originally stayed in the "Ambos Mundos" hotel in the historic center of Havana, and then moved out to his residence in Finca Vigia, a colonial house 15 km from the city center.
"The joint effort has included preserving thousands of documents such as letters, notes, programs, books, magazines among others," Adams said, adding that it is very important to conserve these pieces for posterity once they are rescued.
The teams have been working together for more than 10 years. With the help of a new laboratory, which is about to be built with the appropriate conditions to protect the objects, the institutions hope to finish the project next year.
The laboratory will be built by Cuban architects and engineers, with US specialists offering help at the planning stage.
"It is a marvelous piece of news," said Ada Rosa Alfonso, director of the Finca Vigia Museum, formerly Hemingway's Cuban home.
The new building will be situated at the entrance to the property near the parking lot, and it will not interfere with the traditional layout of the property, Rosa said.
The museum has a collection of some 22,000 personal objects and documents that belonged to the novelist, such as books, hunting trophies, records, guns, letters, photos, the yacht named "Pilar" and even a 1955 Chrysler vehicle which is in bad condition.
It is estimated that 20 percent of the 9,000 books in the Finca Vigia's library contains handwritten annotations, among which are remarks for letters and ideas for book titles.
The US foundation was created in 2004 after Jenny Phillips travelled to the island. She is the granddaughter of Maxwell Perkins, who was an editor and great friend of Hemingway, and James McGovern, who was a Massachusetts congressman and defender of normalizing relations with Cuba.
Since its creation, the foundation has worked with the Cuban government to restore the novelist's legendary house and the surrounding land in the San Francisco de Paula district on the outskirts of Havana.