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Closing Remarks during historic cultural delegation trip to Cuba

William D. Adams, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities

Gran Teatro de La Habana
Paseo del Prado
Havana, LHA

April 21, 2016

Thank you.

I’d like to begin by thanking our hosts, the Cuban government and the Cuban people, for their hospitality and for generously sharing their knowledge and insights with us these past few days.

Although we are at the conclusion of our trip, we mark and celebrate today a new beginning in our relationship with the Cuban people. The lives of Cubans and Americans have been connected for many years and in many ways, but nowhere more powerfully than in the cultural sphere—in our mutual appreciation of our literature, music, art and history. Now we have the opportunity to renew and deepen our cultural ties in ways that will contribute to the future well-being of our countries.

As I’ve visited Cuban museums and talked with scholars and curators this week, it’s clear to me that we have much to learn from the ways in which museum professionals in Cuba approach the important work of collecting and preserving Cuban culture and history. And so I am honored to announce today that the National Endowment for the Humanities will provide a grant to a distinguished group of American art conservation professionals and students to visit Cuba to observe conservation practices concerning photographs, manuscripts, and other collections.        

This trip will offer important insights and lessons that will enhance and broaden American conservation practices.

This funding will go to the Art Conservation program that is run jointly by the University of Delaware and the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library. The Delaware Winterthur program is one of the leading conservation graduate programs in the United States.

The delegation supported by NEH will be led by one of the world’s leading preservation experts and will include a conservation research scientist who is bilingual in Spanish. These professionals, along with their students, plan to visit museums, libraries and archives in Cuba. They will talk with their Cuban counterparts about their preservation challenges and methods in order to enhance conservation and preservation practices in the United States.

This week has been a wonderful opportunity to begin a new phase of cultural dialogue between the Cuban and America peoples. The National Endowment for the Humanities is extremely honored and grateful to be part of this historic delegation, and we are grateful to the government and people of Cuba for their warm welcome and hospitality.