Marta Arjona’s outstanding contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage is recognised in a Cuban television programme
The outstanding work of the sculptor and ceramicist Marta Arjona, a manager for the restoration and preservation of cultural goods in Cuba over more than half a century, was recognised by specialists and officials working in the field of heritage conservation, during the evening of Monday 6 May, on the television programme Diálogo Abierto (Open Dialogue), led by the journalist Loly Estévez, on the Education Channel of Cuban Television.
The creation of the Cuban museums network and the implementation of the national legislation for the protection of cultural and natural heritage were two of the greatest achievements of Dr Arjona that were highlighted during the programme by Margarita Ruiz Brandi and Gladys Collazo, who were successors of the renowned artist as President of the Consejo Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural (CNPC: National Council for Cultural Heritage). She held this role from 1977 until her death on 23 May 2006.
During his speech on the television programme, Herman van Hooff, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean, recalled the friendship between them, from their first encounter at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) in 1993. Among the notable achievements of "Doña Marta", as she was endearingly called, he mentioned the inscription of Old Havana and its Fortifications on the World Heritage List in 1982, the launch of UNESCO's international campaign for the restoration of the Plaza Vieja, the creation of the Centro Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museología (CENCREM: National Centre for Conservation, Restoration and Museology) in the eighties, as well as the commendable work she carried out as the Cuban representative for the World Heritage Convention since 1972, and her support for the other UNESCO conventions in the cultural field.
Moraima Clavijo, Director of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Cuba (National Fine Arts Museum of Cuba) and José Linares, Executive Secretary of the Cuban Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) similarly emphasised the humanist vocation of Dr Arjona and the wide recognition she achieved internationally through her work in promoting and preserving heritage in all of its expressions. These virtues were later to be honoured through the granting of UNESCO's International Melina Mercouri Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes, and with her nomination as a Member of Honour of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).
At the end of the programme the viewers were again invited to visit the exhibitions 'Marta ceramista' (at the Museo de la Cerámica, in the historic centre of Old Havana) and 'Marta Arjona' (in the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas "San Alejandro"), organised in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the artist's birth.
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