Decorative Arts at Havana University

/ 3 November, 2014

Havana University has a large movable, immovable and immaterial patrimonial heritage that has been formed since its founding in 1728 as the Royal and Pontifical University of San Geronimo of Havana, until today. Within the vast panorama of the heritage assets in movable terms, the decorative arts have a special place. Although its value has historically been underestimated given the dual nature of artistic and useful object, its presence as a witness to the evolution of the institution and important events, give it great importance within the university patrimonial universe.

Throughout history, the decorative art has been present in all aspects of university life; hence its legitimacy as part of the heritage of Havana University is essential. The values taken into account for the valorization of heritage assets are primarily artistic, aesthetic, historical, scientific, paleontological, and ethnographic and technician, among others, in addition to the value granted to them given their originality degree and condition of unique and unrepeatable object.

Nonetheless, assimilation of certain values occurs with the passage of time. First, we have the seniority value, since the parts mainly belong to the twentieth century, and the traces left by time are easily appreciated. The artistic value is undeniable in most of the works; we have examples of both foreign and domestic excellently made furniture where you can appreciate the precious woods of our territory. Similarly, the presence of various types and styles of furniture enables pointing out the evolution of this manifestation in Cuba, from the observation of the pieces located in the Aula Magna, the Chippendale chairs of the Institute of Pharmacy and Food (IFAL by its Spanish acronym) up to others more modern such as the chairs of Ruben Martinez Villena Central Library. As for lamps, we distinguish the beautiful examples from the majestic lamp of the Aula Magna, until those of Art-Deco style of the Central Library. You may also find a personalized furniture where you can appreciate emblems that refer directly to Havana University such as the UH monogram, therefore they are unique pieces of great originality, as the wooden bar located at the Juan Abrantes University Stadium.

Moreover, the historical value will be one of the most important elements to highlight as many of these pieces have witnessed traditions and events that occurred in the institution. However, their university heritage nature, intangible value of great importance to Havana University, is not properly estimated because it lies in the contact with the subject who recognizes and appreciates them, hence the importance of their legitimization by the university community and the society in general.
The decorative arts have not only maintained its function to decorate the spaces but its constant use by many generations of students deserves a special place in the heritage universe of Havana University.

These are values which, though not of great significance outside the university context, do have it within it, because their value is completed from their relationship with their properties and history thereof, which in turn is the story of Havana University.

The solution consists in working for the dissemination and recognition of these values within the University, hence the request for the establishment of an institutional policy dictated from the center itself, which will bet primarily on its artistic, historic and heritage significance. It means making emphasis on their cultural values but since their university status.

The valuation of decorative arts will be completed from raising awareness of its importance as university heritage. Similarly, the knowledge and dissemination of the values of the assets, without leaving aside mechanisms to systematize and integrate their values, will allow their protection, conservation and promotion. The defense, preservation and appreciation of its heritage value comprise a large and complex field of action, which will require a systematic treatment which will favor the preservation and valuation of the pieces of decorative arts as part of the cultural heritage of Havana University.

Yeniffer Torres Cordero

Yeniffer Torres Cordero

Yeniffer Torres Cordero (La Habana, 1989). Soy graduada de Historia del Arte. He publicado en Noticias Artecubano y el Caimán Barbudo. Me interesa el arte contemporáneo y los temas relacionados con el patrimonio cultural.

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