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Thursday, May 30 • 12:00pm - 2:00pm
AIC's Photographic Materials Group - 'Conservators as Diplomats: Preserving Ernest Hemingway’s Legacy in Cuba'

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Ernest Hemingway lived in Cuba longer than he lived anywhere else—from 1939-1960, one third of his life. His Cuban home, Finca Vigía or Lookout Farm, was the only stable residence of his adult life. At the Finca he wrote many of his finest works - For Whom the Bell Tolls, Across the River and Into the Trees, The Old Man and the Sea, A Moveable Feast, Islands in the Stream, and numerous short stories and articles. Hemingway’s long and productive life in Cuba is the period that has been studied and understood the least due to the embargo.

Finca Vigía contains original book and short story manuscripts, letters, telegrams, post cards, over 3000 photographs, his fishing tackle and gun collection, furniture, fine art and map collection, scrap books, and a 9000 volume library containing rare first editions of his books and those of his contemporaries. Approximately 20% of the books have Hemingway’s musings written in the margins. Not only did he write in the house, he also wrote on its very walls. Preserved under glass on the bathroom wall, are Hemingway’s penciled daily records of his obsession with his weight and blood pressure.

Finca Vigía has been maintained as a museum for the past 50 years. The Cuban Ministry of Culture has cared for the collections admirably under difficult conditions. Despite diligent efforts, they did not possess the financial or technical resources to maintain the home and its contents. Derelict and distressed, Finca Vigía and its collections were in danger of destruction from heat, humidity, pests, and the sheer passage of time. A United States non-profit, The Finca Vigía Foundation, was founded 10 years ago to preserve Hemingway’s legacy in Cuba. The Foundation has established an unprecedented collaboration between Cuban and U S governments to conserve the Hemingway documents and completed the architectural preservation of the main house.

With very little money, and in the midst of a dauntingly difficult political climate, this project has flourished, grown, and won international acclaim. The bi-national collaboration has been cited as a “harbinger of better times” by both governments. Throughout the past decade, the Foundation has brought US conservators to Havana -- including specialists in architecture, engineering, books and paper, metal, photography, textiles, taxidermy, and digital imaging -- to offer advice and provide conservation trainings.

avatar for Mary-Jo Adams

Mary-Jo Adams

Executive Director, Finca Vigia Foundation, Inc.

Thursday May 30, 2013 12:00pm - 2:00pm EDT
JW Marriott 101-102 19 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204

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