The Kislak Center today opens its doors in downtown Miami with an exhibition in which, through some 160 manuscripts, rare books, maps and pre-Columbian vessels, it offers a “panoramic view of the history and cultures of the Americas”, according to its organizers.
The permanent exhibition that opens today on the first floor of the Freedom Tower of Miami Dade College (MDC) addresses a multidimensional vision, with an organization that mixes the chronological order and diverse themes.
“Culture and Change in the Early Americas” houses some vessels and pre-Columbian objects that constitute “small masterpieces,” said the director of the Jay I. Kislak Foundation, Arthur Dunkelman, one of the people in charge of the exhibition.
“They are magnificent objects, you do not need to know anything about cultures and history to appreciate it,” he said.
Among the highlights of the exhibition, Dunkelman highlighted a bowl of the Early Classic Maya Period (between 200 and 400 AD), which describes the Milky Way as a celestial snake surrounding the container.
The visitor will also appreciate a Mayan mask made of jade mosaics, a fragment of a Maya hieroglyphic monument and the first printed edition, it is estimated that in 1494, a letter from Christopher Columbus written a year earlier in which he reported his discovery King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile.
The letter also contains illustrations that constitute, said Dunkelman, “the first images of the New World” and in which Cuba appears, and with that name in addition.
Divided into three sections, the exhibition, which is interactive, includes the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, of 1574 and the work of Abraham Ortelius, which with its 53 maps is considered the first modern atlas, and which is exhibited in a section that shows how it has evolved the cartography.
The director of the foundation expressed his hope that the exhibition, which will be accompanied by a series of lectures and complementary activities starting in the fall, will teach young people from Miami with indigenous origins “respect and understanding of their cultural heritage”.
Dunkelman explained that the different sections of the show hide stories that they have tried to give “contemporary relevance”, because after all “times change, but people do not really change,” he said.
“History is a mirror in which if you look deeply you can see yourself, see your friends, see what is happening outside on the street”, he delved.
“Culture and Change in the Early Americas” is exhibited after the Jay I. Kislak Foundation will donate books, objects and historical materials, valued at around 30 million dollars, to Miami Dade College and the University in January 2017. of Miami, in the same way that in 2004 it did with the Library of the United States Congress.
After the creation of a Kislak Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the launch of another center in South Florida, where real estate developer Jay Kislak was established in the early 1950s and began to build his important collection , allows “complete the circle”, as explained to Efe Tom Bartelmo, president of the Kislak Organization.
“Jay and his family have deep roots here and they wanted the collection to be part of this community for generations to come,” he added.
Bartelmo stressed that the set is “of international importance and contains keys to understand the history of Florida, the first Americas and the cultures of the Caribbean and Latin America.”
Created over the course of several decades and considered one of the most important of its kind in the United States, the Kislak collection contains some of the “most significant” objects related to the history of the Americas.
The partnership with MDC has resulted in a “museum-quality” exhibition hall, which shows examples of a collection that extends from indigenous cultures, goes through the colonial period and reaches independence, and that reflects “a process that never ends,” said Bartelmo.
“What does not change is that we continue to change, we evolve and adapt,” said the president of the organization. efe