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U.S., Cuba Natural History Museums Announce Historic Collaboration

Image: Yeni Hernandez, 4, plays near the water from where waterspouts are said to have entered the beach town of Playa Caimito in Cuba

File photo of the beach town of Playa Caimito, Cuba, July 4, 2016. ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI / Reuters

Starting in the fall, the prestigious American Museum of Natural History will be presenting a bilingual exhibit, ¡Cuba!, as part of a new, formal collaboration with one of the island's foremost institutions, the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Cuba, known in English as the Cuban National Museum of Natural History. The two will be working together on research as well as exhibitions and education.

The museums signed an agreement to formalize their work together on July 9, stressing that one of the areas in which they will work together is conservation.

AMNH's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, and Xochitl Ay?n, Cuban National Museum of Natural History, Cupeyal del Norte Sector, Humboldt National Park.
Spencer Galen, AMNH Richard Gilder Graduate School Ph. D. Candidate, Ana Porzecanski, director of AMNH's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, and Xochitl Ay?n, Cuban National Museum of Natural History, Cupeyal del Norte Sector, Humboldt National Park. B.T. Smith

The upcoming fall exhibit will focus on several areas, and one of them is Cuba's well-known biodiversity. About half of the Caribbean island's plants and over 30 percent of its vertebrate animals are what is called endemic; they're only found in Cuba.

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"We have many common goals--to advance scientific research and knowledge of our planet’s biodiversity and the understanding of Cuban biodiversity, and to continue to develop scientific capacity and biodiversity conservation at this crucial time," said Ana Luz Porzecanski, director of the Museum's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, in an e-mail to NBC Latino.

Dr. Silva Taboada, Cuban National Museum of Natural History Curator Emeritus
Dr. Silva Taboada, Cuban National Museum of Natural History Curator Emeritus, overlooks Humboldt National Park as the AMNH / MNHN expedition convoy departs. A. Porzecanski

"We are pleased that we are already making so much progress together in two key lines of work: a historic exhibition that will share the beauty and importance of Cuban biodiversity and its vibrant culture with a global audience, and the joint research we are leading in natural history," said Dr. Porzecanski.

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The exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)will also show scenes from life in Cuba and culture, including music and Afro-Cuban spiritual traditions such as santería.

AMNH also announced it will give the Cuban Museum of Natural History's Curator Emeritus, Gilberto Silva Taboada, a Doctor of Science degree. This will take place on October 24 at its graduate school commencement. Silva Taboada is an internationally known expert on Caribbean bats.

The ¡Cuba! exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History will open on Nov. 21, 2016 until Aug. 13, 2017.

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