Casa Bacardi teaches Cuban history, culture

Located on Brescia Avenue is a microcosmic dwelling that represents all that is Cuba, past and present.

Casa Bacardi, a new interactive cultural center highlighting Cuban history and culture, opened in May of this year as part of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies [ICCAS].

According to organizers, the Bacardi Family Foundation donated $1 million to promote and update the building.

“This is a resource for students to learn about the culture and history of Cuba,” said Jaime Suchlicki, director of the Institute of Cuba and Cuban American Studies. “It also serves as an interactive cultural center that educates students and the public about Cuba in a post-Castro era.”

“We wanted the grand opening of the institute to coincide with the centennial anniversary of Cuban independence,” said Maria Urizar, administrative assistant of Casa Bacardi.

“We want people of Cuban descent who were born here and those who were born in Cuba to learn about their heritage.”

Among Casa Bacardi’s amenities are an exhibit area, a music pavilion, a Cuban information center and a cinema.

“I think Casa Bacardi is a very happening place,” sophomore Alejandro Cardenas said. “It’s a great place to hang out with friends and to learn about aspects of Cuba that we may not have been aware of.”

Currently, the “Smithsonian Institution Photograph Exhibit of Cuba in 1902” is on display in Casa Bacardi. The exhibit features original photos of Cuba taken during the celebration of the establishment of the republic in May 1902.

The music pavilion houses an archive of over 2,000 digital music selections from 19th and 20th century Cuban works.

The pavilion also houses archives of Cuban humor, including jokes by Cuban comedians Guillermo Alvarez Guedes and Luis Carbonell.

“[Casa Bacardi] reminds me of home,” Manny Rodriguez said. “I’ve only been a couple of times, but I definitely plan to bring my friends and family here as soon as I get a chance.”

The Cuban information center, also inside of Casa Bacardi, allows visitors to access historical and current information relating to Cuba.

“The information center allows visitors to take a variety of quizzes to test their knowledge of Cuban history,” Suchlicki said. “This should be the first stop of anybody who is doing research on Cuba.”

“I believe that Casa Bacardi will help to bridge the huge gap that exists between the different generations of Cuban-Americans,” said Jose Flores, a political activist who specializes in issues of Cuban immigration. “Many of our more recent generations don’t have the means to get accurate information regarding their ancestry.”

A temporary exhibit of lithographic paintings on Cuban cigar rings is currently on display. On Oct. 11, Dr. Loyd Glenn Westfall will give a lecture regarding the subject.

“We are always inviting guests to present their books, give lectures and speak at luncheons,” Urizar said. “Depending on the type of event, between the community and media, we usually host between 90 and 100 attendants per event.”

Show times for the cinema are 2 and 5 p.m. on Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Recent movies include Bitter Sugar and Forever Cuba.

Admission is free for UM students and $5 for guests.

For more information on exhibits or show times, call 305-284-CUBA or visit