20.09.2013 - UNESCO Havana/Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

Navigator frigate exhibition opens at site where its remains are treasured

© UNESCO Havana.Students invited to the inauguration of the exhibition at the entrance to the museum, together with Tatiana Villegas and Roger Azcarraeta.

An exhibition of artefacts rescued from the Navitagor frigate was inaugurated last 17 September at the Museum in Santa Cruz del Norte, in the Cuban province of Mayabeque, where the vessel sunk off its coasts in 1814.

Local authorities such as Mr Leonardo Sanabria, President of the Municipal Assembly of the People's Power, and Heidi Tosca León, director of the Museum, participated in the opening ceremony, together with the director of the Archaeology Department of the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana (OHCH), Roger Azcarraeta, and his work team, as well as primary school students from the surrounding area. The Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean was represented by underwater archaeologist Tatiana Villegas, Culture team specialist.

The exhibition is similar, but with a somewhat smaller format, to the exhibition "The Navigator frigate and its British shipment: history and archaeology", inaugurated last April by Mr Herman van Hooff, UNESCO Havana director, at the Castillo de la Real Fuerza Museum in the historic centre of the Cuban capital.

In this case, it includes artefacts from the vessel's shipment, as well as chinaware, porcelain and other belongings of the sailors that archaeologists have been able to extract during their excavation campaigns. The exhibition also includes objects that were looted and later recovered thanks to the joint action of the OHCH Department of Archaeology, the Santa Cruz del Norte authorities, and the police force in their efforts to fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage.

The initiative forms part of the actions promoted by the UNESCO Office in Havana to develop community museums and raise awareness of the existence and importance of underwater cultural heritage. On this occasion, the exhibition, especially aimed at awakening a sense of pertinence among the local population regarding their underwater heritage, raised a lot of interest among the local dwellers, particularly among children, who were called upon to protect this heritage.

At this same site and with the support of the Santa Cruz authorities, the team from the OHCH Archaeology Department is registering the wrecks sunk off the coasts of the provinces of La Habana and Mayabeque, as part of Cuba’s national inventory of underwater cultural heritage.

Leaflet on the exhibition "The Navigator frigate and its British shipment: history and archaeology" (pdf) (AVAILABLE ONLY IN SPANISH)

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