Donation from Coca-Cola chair builds home for Cuban Heritage Collection at UM
By Sherri C. Ranta
The University of Miami's premier Cuban Heritage Collection - 250,000 books, journals, photographs and other materials spanning 400 years - will officially have a home this month in the Robert C. Goizueta pavilion.
The university and members of the Cuban-American community will celebrate the Jan. 28 opening of the pavilion at the campus library in Coral Gables. It is named after the late Cuban-born CEO of the Coca-Cola Co. who moved to Miami in 1960 and later settled in Atlanta until his death in 1997.
The 10,000-square-foot pavilion, on the second floor of the library, will hold the collections dating back to 1926, the year the university opened, said Esperanza B. de Varona, director of the Cuban Heritage Collection.
A $2.5 million 1999 donation from the Goizueta Foundation by Olga C. de Goizueta, widow of Mr. Goizueta, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola from 1981 to 1997, funded the project. Added funds for the pavilion, Ms. de Varona said, came from the late Elena Diaz-Verson Amos and the Fanjul family.
Mr. Goizueta's family left Cuba in 1960 after Fidel Castro rose to power. Family members, Ms. de Varona said, lived in Miami.
The pavilion offers a larger, improved space for the collection, including corporate and personal papers and oral histories, documenting Cuban history from the colonial period to present, she said.
Prior to the opening of the pavilion last fall, materials were stored with the university's general collection.
Included are materials collected from Cuban exiles fleeing to Miami. The university began collecting materials from the exiles in the 1960s, she said, and continues to collect materials from the island itself.
Ms. de Varona, who also fled the island after Castro's rise, said the pavilion is a dream come true.
"Thanks to the generosity of the Goizueta family, the Cuban Heritage Collection will be able to continue to gather and made accessible materials necessary for study, analysis and understanding of the Cuban experience for generations to come."
The arrival of exiles accelerated the collection's expansion. In 1998, the Richter Library's vast and growing holdings of Cuban, Cuban exile and Cuban-American monographs, and special materials were brought together under the Cuban Heritage Collection. Among its holdings are 800 postcards, dating from 1900 to 1950 depicting everyday sites and customs of Cuba.
Some of the material may be viewed online at the collection's website. An Institute of Museum and Library Sciences grant has also made possible the creation of a digital collection, Ms. de Varona said.