MDC Museum of Art + Design

The Cuban Exile Experience: A Journey To Freedom [Ongoing]

Freedom Flights Cuban refugees crowd into a processing area at the Freedom Tower in 1967

Freedom Flights Cuban refugees crowd into a processing area at the Freedom Tower in 1967. Juan Clark Collection

The Cuban Exile Experience & Cultural Legacy Gallery is a historical component of MDC Museum of Art and Design located on the ground floor of the Historic Freedom Tower. The Cuban Exile exhibitions and the Cultural Legacy Gallery will be closed until Spring 2018 to undergo exciting renovations to better serve our community. While we improve our historic building, we will take to the streets of Miami bringing you engaging art programs at several locations throughout the city. Please check out our upcoming events.

Recently arrived Cuban families line up for assistance at the Cuban Refugee Emergency Center in 1967

Recently arrived Cuban families line up for assistance at the Cuban Refugee Emergency Center in 1967

The Exile Experience: Journey to Freedom is a historical collection of photos and stories that illustrate the struggles the Cuban exile community has endured since Fidel Castro's rise to power, and the successes they have achieved in the United States. The installation is found on the mezzanine/ballroom floor of the historic Freedom Tower

Having covered the Cuban exile community and its struggle for freedom extensively throughout the years, Miami Dade College and the Miami Herald Media Company are proud to present this journalistic chronology, which showcases the spirit and accomplishments of the Cuban-American community.

The Exile Experience: Journey to Freedom is organized and curated by the Miami Herald Media Company. Miami Herald Media Company (MHMC) publishes the Miami Herald, winner of 20 Pulitzer Prizes, and el Nuevo Herald, recipient of the Ortega y Gasset international prize for Spanish-language publications. Together, our newspapers are read each week by more than 1.5 million people in print and online at MiamiHerald.com and elNuevoHerald.com.

Cuban Cultural Legacy Gallery - Glexis Novoa: The Cankama Sutta
[The exhibition will be on view from March 14 to Sep. 29, 2019]

Glexis Novoa: The Cankama Sutta

Glexis Novoa: The Cankama Sutta

Glexis Novoa’s graphite drawing on the gallery’s walls pictures a mysterious landscape that forms a travelogue or narrative, incorporating symbols of the artist’s personal experiences as an immigrant, his life in Miami, and his travels around the world, as well as his interests in social and political history. The drawing engages in dialogue with a set of sculptures produced in Havana during 2015, which represent other aspects of his voyage and moments of history that have recently transformed Cuban society. The artist credits cities in general, and Havana in particular, with providing inspiration.

For Novoa, the condition of the immigrant relates to the Cankama Sutta, a Buddhist rule or discourse about walking meditation, an action analogous to the artist’s nomadic existence. The study and practice of Buddhist teachings, originally learned as a child from his mother in Cuba, forms a thread running through Novoa’s life. The influence of the practice of meditation deepened during interactions with emigrant communities from Thailand and Sri Lanka. Locally, he has forged strong connections with the venerable monks of Miami’s Wat Buddharangsi, where he was ordained as a novice monk or samanera.

Born in Holguín, Cuba, Novoa received a B.A. from The National School of Art in Havana. He has worked in painting, performance, and installation, and has become internationally recognized for his site-specific graphite wall drawings. Since the late 1980s, his work has been widely exhibited in the United States and around the world. Novoa lives and works in Miami and Havana.

Kislak Center: Culture and Change in the Early Americas [Ongoing]

Maya Ceramic Throne Box, Classic Maya 800-1000 CE.

Maya Ceramic Throne Box, Classic Maya 800-1000 CE.

Miami Dade College opens the highly anticipated Kislak Center at MDC’s National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower in downtown Miami on Saturday, May 20, 2018. Made possible by a donation by the Jay I. Kislak Foundation and assembled over the course of many decades, the Kislak collection, considered one of the most important of its kind in the United States, includes some of the most significant original source materials related to the history of the early Americas.

The new gallery will showcase extraordinary objects, including rare books, maps, manuscripts, Pre-Columbian artifacts and other historical materials that offer perspectives on the events and personalities that shaped the modern world. The gallery, a permanent 2,600-square-foot exhibition space, will be open to the public on the first floor of the Freedom Tower, adjacent to its ballroom and historic New World Mural, which celebrates Ponce de León’s 1513 landing in the place he named Florida.
For more information on the Kislak Center. Visit

Cuban Cultural Legacy Gallery - Juana Valdes: Terrestrial Bodies [The exhibition will be on view from October 24, 2019 to April 26, 2020]

"Above and Below" (2015) by Juana Valdes

: "Above and Below" (2015) by Juana Valdes forms part of the artist's upcoming exhibition, Terrestrial Bodies. Image courtesy of the artist and Spinello Projects.

Ptolemy’s Geography inevitably revealed the earth was a spherical globe, rather than a flat surface. This discovery spawned hundreds of European expeditions, leading to the conquer and colonization of the Americas. In Terrestrial Bodies, Juana Valdes considers Ptolemy’s research, expanding two-dimensional works into large installations that map a connection between the history of trade and the displacement of various cultures and people. Incorporating early cartographies and mass-produced collectible ceramic objects – sourced by Valdes from around the world– the exhibition echoes the current trend of globalization, free markets and labor production while questioning the history of colonization. By placing these found ceramic objects in dialogue with grid-like two dimensional works, Valdes alludes to physical bodies being moved and displaced due to the explorations and discoveries of the New World.

Terrestrial Bodies draws on the artists’ personal experience of migration as an Afro-Cuban American. Born in Cabañas, Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Valdes migrated to the United States in 1971. She completed her M.F.A. in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in 1993 and her B.F.A. in Sculpture at Parsons School of Design in 1991. Valdes is an awardee of the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the National Association of Latinos Arts and Cultures, the Ellies Creative Award and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Valdes is an Associate professor in the Department of Art at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.