The Richter Library’s extensive collection of historic Cuban documents, artifacts and books will be under the care of a new director after the departure of Maria Estorino.
Estorino officially became the director of Collections Management and Programming at the HistoryMiami Museum on Oct. 5. She spent the last 14 years with UM, most recently serving as interim head of special collections and director of the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC), located on the second floor of Richter Library. Meiyolet Méndez is serving as the interim head of special collections for the CHC at Richter while Estorino’s successor is selected.
“[The CHC] is a library and an archive dedicated to collecting items from not only Cuba but [also]the Cuban diaspora,” Estorino said.
The Cuban diaspora happened between 1960 and 1980, when thousands of Cubans escaped communism and came to America, a large number of them settling in South Florida. She attributes the collection’s popularity to the large Cuban presence in South Florida.
Her new position at the HistoryMiami Museum is vice president of museum collections. In this position, she focuses on the extensive photo archives, architectural records and family and business papers that make up Miami’s history.
“[The museum] is a place you can come in and study Miami’s history more seriously,” Estorino said. “Being able to collect, preserve and provide access to collections is the most fundamental thing.”
As an undergraduate, Estorino studied history before obtaining her degree in library science, which focuses on the organization and maintenance of archives. An internship at the Smithsonian Institution museum complex in Washington, D.C. during her studies helped to further her interest in the museum field. Estorino said she is intrigued by how historical items help to tie historical events together.
“Working with artifacts and collections as a whole, it’s interesting how they help us tell stories,” she said.
HistoryMiami plans to take advantage of Estorino’s extensive knowledge of Miami to source artifacts and important documents. Estorino will also serve as a liaison between the museum and the greater Miami community.
“Maria will emphasize making our collections discoverable and accessible to the community and provide expertise on strategically collecting materials in our community that help support the museum’s mission to tell Miami stories,” Museum Director Jose Zamanillo said.
In order to build on the collection, Estorino is getting acquainted with her new workplace and the collection the museum has curated over the years.
The Cuban Heritage Collection at Richter library, directed by Maria Estorino, archives items from Cuba and the Cuban Diaspora. The collection aims to tell stories of the community. Erum Kidwai // Staff Photographer