Cuban Pathways The Exhibition
TOUR BEGINS JUNE 2023
Taíno Indians, enslaved Africans, Spaniards, Chinese laborers and pastel-wearing U.S. tourists have all traveled to and from Cuba over the last 500 years. Their experiences and labors made the largest island in the Caribbean a hub of the modern Atlantic World.
Cuban Pathways tells the stories of these individuals and more, whose toil, political crusades and vacations shaped the island’s modern history.
This traveling exhibition covers early Spanish settlements and the arrival of the first Africans to the island, and it includes first-hand accounts of émigrés fleeing Revolutionary Cuba. Cuban Pathways is a personalized experience that highlights Cuba’s diverse human history.
SELECT A PATHWAY
Cuban Pathways chronicles the experiences of Paulina Pedroso, an Afro-Cuban revolutionary born in Pinar del Río, Cuba in 1845; Rogelio Azorín, who arrived from Spain in the early 1900s and whose family established a manufacturing company; and Francisco Changsut, who emigrated from Canton, China to Cuba around 1900.
TOP: A photo of members of the Changsut family. Francisco Changsut came to Cuba from Canton, China around the turn of the twentieth century. Francisco ran a successful farm with his wife Caridad and their family. Photograph of the children circa 1925. Tampa Bay History Center collection, 2021.156.001. MIDDLE: Paulina Pedroso, an Afro-Cuban Revolutionary. BOTTOM: A visitor reading about a Spaniard’s experiences in Cuba.
FIRST PHOTO: Members of the Changsut family. Francisco Changsut came to Cuba from Canton, China around the turn of the twentieth century. Francisco ran a successful farm with his wife Caridad and their family. Photograph of the children circa 1925. Tampa Bay History Center collection, 2021.156.001. SECOND PHOTO: Paulina Pedroso, an Afro-Cuban Revolutionary. THIRD PHOTO: A visitor reading about a Spaniard’s experiences in Cuba.
EXHIBITION AT A GLANCE
• 2,000-2,500 square feet total exhibit space*
*Total exhibit square feet dependent on chug boat option.
• More than 70 objects
• Optional three-piece 21-foot long chug boat. Includes the vessel’s bow, stern, and engine
• A 6-foot by 5-foot ViewMaster exhibit interactive, with scrolling digital images of Cuba’s twentieth-century tourist industry
• Three interactive ViewMasters with vintage 1950s Cuban reels
• 3-D model of chug boat on interactive touch screen
• Participation fee: $10,000 plus one-way shipping for 12 weeks
Optional chug fee $1000 plus shipping
Institutions that host Cuban Pathways will have access to the following options:
• Installation consultation and support services
• Public Curator’s talk
• Education guide and docent training materials
• Promotional materials, including images, logos, and special events support
Tampa Bay History Center – PRESS PAGE
Local historians connect the complicated 500-year story of Cuba and its ties to Tampa
Cuban Pathways opens to the public on February 11
(TAMPA, Jan. 27, 2022) – What do you imagine when you think about today’s Cuba? Or the Cuba visited by pastel-wearing tourists in the 1950s? The island nation is the largest in the Caribbean and has a long history of turmoil and opportunity–with deep connections to the Tampa Bay region.
Cuban Pathways is the latest exhibition by the Tampa Bay History Center and tells the 500-year story through the lenses of individuals whose labor, political crusades and search for refuge illustrates Cuba’s complex history.
“Given our region’s deep connections with Cuba, this story is part of the Tampa Bay story,” says C.J. Roberts, President and CEO of the Tampa Bay History Center. “Cuban Pathways is the first traveling exhibition produced exclusively by the History Center. We are proud to share these artifacts from our collection and extensive research with the Tampa Bay community and other museums in the Southeast and beyond.”
This traveling exhibition covers early Spanish settlements and the arrival of the first Africans to the island, and it includes first-hand accounts of émigrés fleeing Revolutionary Cuba. It is a personalized experience as we meet three modern Cubans representing the island’s diversity.
Follow the experiences of Paulina Pedroso, an Afro-Cuban revolutionary born in Pinar del Río, Cuba in 1845 into a free Afro-Cuban family; Rogelio Azorín, who arrived from Spain after the Spanish-Cuban-American War in 1898 and whose family established a manufacturing company; and Francisco Changsut, who emigrated from Canton, China to Cuba around 1900. This extensive look at Cuban history was researched by the History Center’s curatorial team and led by Dr. Brad Massey, Saunders Foundation Curator of Public History, who traveled to South Florida and Key West over the past year to secure artifacts for the exhibition.
“Cuba was the Caribbean hub of the modern Atlantic World and home to a diverse population,” says Massey. “This exhibition is organized by three distinct journeys that brought people to and from the island. It offers a glimpse into Cuban life during each era.”
The collection will occupy more than 2,000 square feet of gallery space at the History Center when it opens Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, for a year-long showing. After the premiere exhibition in Tampa, Cuban Pathways is set to travel the southeastern U.S.
Maruchi Azorín, MBA
and Dr. Rafael W. Blanco
Curator of Public History
Photos and Video
Courtesy of Tampa Bay History Center
Changsut Family Photo
A photo of members of the Changsut family. Francisco Changsut came to Cuba from Canton, China around the turn of the twentieth century. Francisco ran a successful farm with his wife Caridad and their family. Photograph of the children of Francisco and Caridad Changsut ca. 1925, Caridad (Lily), Francisco (Panchito), Pedro, and Arsenio. Handwritten note on back. Photograph turned into a postcard.
Tampa Bay History Center Collection, 2021.156.001
Left in a chug boat that came to shore in Key West, near the famous Southernmost point buoy. It is unknown who wore the lifejacket or if was bought in case of an emergency.
Tampa Bay History Center exhibit showpiece
This chug boat, and hundreds like it, were built by Cubans to cross the Florida Straits after 1959. Made from spray foam, concrete, a blue tarp and other materials, this chug boat carried 12 people from Cuba to the shore of Key West, near the famous Southernmost point buoy.
Tampa Bay History Center exhibit showpiece
Music and dance were central components of the tourist experience in Cuba. Son music poured out of Havana’s bars and clubs. Accompanying son music was the highly sexualized rumba dance. Critics labeled the dance lurid and lewd, which is precisely why many tourists loved it. Many elite Cubans looked down on son and rumba, dismissing them as working-class, and African-derived, entertainment. For U.S. tourists, however, son and rumba came to define Cuba.
Tampa Bay History Center Collection, 2007.063.007 and .008
1946 Death Certificate
Francisco Changsut came to Cuba from Canton, China around the turn of the twentieth century. Francisco ran a successful farm with his wife Caridad and their family. As noted in this death certificate, he died in 1946 of Tuberculosis and was buried in Havana’s Chinese Cemetery.
Tampa Bay History Center, 2021.156.007
Chug Boat Engine
This chug engine is an air-cooled Russian-made diesel motor with a four-wheel-drive transmission. It powered a tractor before being repurposed for this vessel. Many chug builders installed air-cooled diesels because they were simple and reliable. This vessel likely traveled no faster than 5 mph. The “chug, chug, chug” of the diesel engine is how these improvised vessels got their names.
Tampa Bay History Center exhibit showpiece
Pañuelo de Instrucción Military (Military Instruction Cloth Handkerchief)
The Spanish military distributed handkerchiefs to soldiers fighting in Cuba in the 1890s. The handkerchief has images and instructions about weapons and military tactics. These handkerchiefs were easily folded and carried around by Spanish soldiers.
Tampa Bay History Center Collection, 1996.051.697
Tobacco Roller’s Chair
Used in the 1920s, this tobacco roller’s chair is from a U.S. cigar factory.
Tampa Bay History Center, 2000.049.178
Brad Massey, Ph.D.
Saunders Foundation Curator of Public History
Brad Massey is the Saunders Foundation Curator of Public History at the Tampa Bay History Center. He has worked at the History Center since 2018. He holds a doctorate in history from the University of Florida, and Master of Arts in history from George Mason University, and a Bachelor of Arts in history from Florida Atlantic University. In 2015, Massey was the University of South Florida’s Patrick Riordan Research Fellow.
Today, Massey curates exhibitions and produces historical scholarship at the History Center, where he leads a team focused on preservation and expanding the museum’s collection. Spreading the word about the History Center’s important work drives Massey’s regular public presentations, lectures and historical scholarship.
Along with working at the History Center, Massey has taught history at the collegiate level for the past 15 years, most recently at Polk State College and the University of Tampa. His scholarship has been published in the Florida Historical Quarterly, Tampa Bay History, and other publications. His current book project, entitled the State of Change: A Technological History of Florida, is currently under contract with the University Press of Florida.
About the Tampa Bay History Center
Located on Tampa’s Riverwalk, the Tampa Bay History Center includes three floors of permanent and temporary exhibition space focusing on 12,000 years of Florida’s history and culture. A Smithsonian Affiliate museum and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the History Center includes the Touchton Map Library and Florida Center for Cartographic Education, and the Witt Research Center, and is home to the Columbia Cafe. One of Tampa’s premier cultural venues, the History Center’s hands-on, interactive exhibits and theaters provide an entertaining and educational experience for visitors of all ages. For more information, visit www.tampabayhistorycenter.org.