Miami’s Cuban Exile Museum One Step Closer to Reality

Rendering of the proposed Cuban Exile Museum in Miami. Photo: screen grab via Local Ten News.

Plans to build a museum dedicated to the Cuban exile on a city-owned waterfront site in downtown Miami have been approved by an 8-3 vote by the Miami-Dade County Commission, reports the Miami Herald.

Over the last 55 years, the city has become home to a large number of Cuban immigrants who have fled the Castro dictatorship. “The Cuban exile experience is all about the American story,” said commissioner Esteban Bovo, before the vote. “It’s about those who come with nothing and create something.”

The  Cuban Exile History Museum and Library, which is expected to cost $125 million but cannot count on county funding, is still far from a sure thing. The next step is a three-month viability study for the project.

Located next to the Miami Heat’s American Airlines Arena, the plot on Biscayne Bay was initially intended to house residential towers. More recently, it was targeted by soccer star David Beckham, who hoped to build a soccer stadium there.

Some members of the community would prefer to turn the proposed museum site into a park (reportedly, mayor Carlos Gimenez is among them). Many argue that the museum, while a worthwhile institution, should be built elsewhere, such as the Little Havana neighborhood, known for its large Cuban population.

Initial museum renderings call for a 75,000-square-foot building designed by Chisholm Architects accompanied by two acres of park space, as well as ground-level parking to help accommodate overflow during special arena events in an effort to placate the Heat, who have publicly opposed the plan.

Miami-Dade has two other planned Cuban-related cultural institutions: the Cuban Museum on Coral Way, which borrowed $10 million from the county to cover construction costs and is scheduled to open next year, and a Hialeah Gardens museum that will highlight the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion that has received $900,000 in state funds. While the Cuban Museum’s focus will be on the artistic, literary, and cultural output of Cuban immigrants, the Cuban Exile museum would have a decidedly more historical bent.

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