NOSTALGIA FOR CUBA: THE VICKI GOLD LEVI COLLECTION AT THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY
This past Saturday, I had provided two VIP guests with an interest in pulp magazine cover art with a special behind-the-scenes tour of the museum and a display of some of the pulp paperbacks and periodicals in the library collection. Many of the pulp paperbacks (and an amazing Cuban poster) I had laid out on the library tables had been gifted to the institution by long-time supporter, Vicki Gold Levi.
And so it seemed a perfect confluence of coincidences that while waiting for the elevator in the lobby of the Wolfsonian museum, I should run into one of our curators, Christian Larsen, walking in with none other than Vicki in the flesh! The two had been conferring first in New York and then here in Miami about an exhibition of some of the materials she had gifted to our collection documenting the U.S-Cuba tourist trade in the pre-Castro era. The exhibition, Paradise Found: Cuban Allure, American Seduction, is being organized by Mr. Larsen with Rosa Lowinger serving as guest curator, and is tentatively scheduled for some time in 2016.
The exhibition will not sugar-coat the realities of the tourist trade—after all, many Americans were traveling to Cuba in order to indulge in the tropical delights of sun and sand, rum and Rhumba. During the era of Prohibition in the States, tourists crossing the Florida straits to Cuba were able openly to frequent casinos and gambling joints, cabarets, nightclubs, and dancehalls, a tradition that continued to have appeal long after the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment.
While the Wolfsonian library already holds a substantial and important collection of printed ephemera and Cuban periodicals thanks to her earlier gifts, after visiting the Cuban Nostalgia Fair, Vicki has most generously added some new materials to our collection to help round out the exhibition. All of us here at The Wolfsonian are thrilled to be collaborating with her on this latest project.