In Havana, there are museums for every aspect of life, with exhibitions related to Latin American, African and Arabic cultures. In addition to fine arts collections, you can see Hemingway's belongings, admire sports medals, learn Cuban history and science, or see exhibitions of Napoleonic weapons and objects. Here is a list of some of the more frequently visited museums.
Fine Arts and Culture
National Museum of Fine Arts–Cuban Collection / Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
The National Fine Arts Museum was created in 1913, moved to its current location in 1955, renovated, and reopened in 2001. The Palacio de Bellas Artes building houses the Cuban Collection and the Centro Asturiano building houses the “Universal” or international arts collection. The Cuban Collection features over 1,000 works, from 16th century maps of the island to modern works by Cuban sculptors, painters, engravers and photographers, and is divided into six historical periods: Colonial Art (16th–19th Centuries), Turn of the Century Art (1894-1927), Emergence of Modern Art (1927-1938), Consolidation of Modern Art (1938-1951), Other Perspectives of Modern Art, which includes mainly Abstractionism (1951-1963) and Contemporary Art, with art from 1959 to the present.
Address: Trocadero between Zulueta and Monserrate, Old Havana, Telephone: 862-0140, 861-3858, 863-9484.
National Museum of Fine Arts - Universal Collection / Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
The “Universal” or international area of the museum, installed in 2001 in the Centro Asturiano building, features art from Asia, the United States, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, France, Holland, Latin American countries and Germany. The ancient art collection is the largest in Latin America and includes Greek, Roman and Egyptian pieces.
Address: San Rafael, between Zulueta y Monserrate, Old Havana
Museum of Decorative Arts / Museo de Artes Decorativos
The Museum of Decorative Arts, founded in 1964, is in a spectacular mansion once owned by Countess and wealthy patroness María Luisa Gómez Mena. It houses over thirty thousand works of art, including 16th-20th century Oriental pieces, Chantilly, Meissen, Sevres, Limoge, Staffordshire, Wedgwood and Faenza porcelains, gold and silver articles, Louis XV and XVI period furniture, lamps by Tiffany, clocks, paintings, tapestries and engravings.
Address: Calle 17 #502, between D and E, Vedado, Telephone: 830-8037.
Museum of Colonial Arts / Museo de Arte Colonial
Located in the mansion of three-time Military Governor of Cuba Don Luis Chacón, this museum preserves and exhibits collections related to the life and customs of Colonial Cuba. The mansion, built in 1726 but opened as a museum in 1969, houses 17th–19th century furniture, porcelain, fans, and elements of colonial architectural, such as wrought-iron grilles, stone and marble sculptures for facades, and stained-glass windows.
Address: San Ignacio #61, between Empedrado y O’Reilly, Plaza Cathedral, Old Havana, Telephone: 862-6440
Wilfredo Lam Center / Centro “Wilfredo Lam”
The Center researches and promotes visual arts of different regions of the world, particularly the work of Wilfredo Lam, considered one of the most relevant artists in Cuban history.
Address: Calle Oficios and Acosta, Old Havana
Museum of Contemporary Ceramics / Museo Nacional de la Cerámica Contemporánea
Casa Aguilera, a beautiful mansion elegantly remodeled in 1728, exhibits an extensive collection of Cuban ceramic arts. The first floor is dedicated to temporary exhibits and the top floor has Cuban ceramics from 1959 to the present.
Address: Mercaderes #27, corner of Amargura, Old Havana
National Museum of Music / Museo Nacional de la Música
Built in 1905, the National Museum of Music holds collections—including folk instruments, art, and scores of key historical Cuban music—that examine the historical development of music and musical instruments in Cuba from the 16th to the 20th centuries.
Address: Calle Capdevilla #1 between Habana and Aguiar, Old Havana
House of the Arabs / Casa de los Árabes
The museum houses permanent exhibits on the rich Arab Islamic culture in Cuba. Outstanding displays include a replica of an Arab market (Zoco) and a prayer room typical of the practice of the Muslim faith in Havana. There is an elegant colonial backyard garden with thriving plants and flowers.
Address: Oficios #16 between Obispo and Obrapía, Old Havana
House of Africa / Casa de Africa
The Casa de Africa has permanent halls of culture of the sub-Saharan African people. Included are artifacts from a variety of Afro-Cuban cultures, supplemented by the collection of late Cuban researcher Fernando Ortiz, along with gifts given to Fidel Castro during visits to Africa.
Address: Obrapía # 157 between Mercaderes and San Ignacio, Old Havana
Museum of the Regla / Museo Municipal de Regla
Dedicated to Yemayá, the revered deity who represents the mother of all life and whose main element is the ocean, this museum holds treasures from the formation and development of the bayside town of Regla. There is art, artifacts and costumes of orishas in the Santeria pantheon.
Address: Martí #158 between Facciolo and La Piedra, Regla
Historical Museum of Gaunabacoa / Historical Museum of Guanabacoa
The Guanabacoa houses one of the most complete ethnographic collections related to the Afro-Cuban religious customs. It has exhibits of the three basic Afro-Cuban religious practices: Regla de Ochá, Regla de Palo or Palo-Monte, and the Secret Abakuá Society. There is also excellent 19th century furniture, glassware, and ceramics.
Address: Martí #108 esquina a Lamas, Guanabacoa
Ernest Hemingway Museum
Ernest Hemingway purchased the early 20th-century estate Finca Vigía in 1939, living there until 1960. In 1964, the house became a museum and has been pristinely preserved. Personal objects, tens of thousands of books and photographs, as well as trophy animals from hunting adventures, are on display. Hemingway’s boat, the Pilar, is also there.
Address: Finca La Vigía, San Francisco de Paula, Havana. Telephone: 91-0809
Museum of Perfumes / Museo de Parfumes
19th and 20th century perfume and soap collections housed in this beautiful old building in Havana, include artifacts from archeological excavations. Modern collections are represented by Suchel, a domestically produced brand of perfumes and cosmetics.
Address: Calle Oficios between Obispo and Obrapía, Old Havana
Latin-American Gallery “Haydee Santamaría”
Sponsored by the renowned Casa de las Américas and friendly donations from other Latin-American regions, this gallery holds thousands of paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other objects complemented by film projections and live music performances.
Address: Calle G (Avenida de los Presidentes) between 3rd y 5th, Vedado
Museum of the Revolution and Granma Memorial / Museo de la Revolución
A vast and detailed panorama of the struggles of the Cuban people to achieve complete sovereignty unfolds in the rooms and open areas of this museum. Visitors can see the tank Fidel Castro used in the 1961 U.S. Bay of Pigs invasion, as well as a memorial that includes the “Granma’” yacht.
Address: Refugio #1 between Monserrate and Zulueta, Old Havana
Numismatic Museum / Museo Numismático
Located in former Banco Mendoza, built in 1915, is the largest collection of Cuban coins in well-divided sections representing the colony, the republic in arms, the American intervention, and later periods up to 1959. This valuable collection of over sixty thousand pieces includes notes, medals, and coinage dating back to the 7th century B.C., along with the most comprehensive exhibit of Cuban currency issues.
Address: Calle Oficios #8 between Obispo and Obrapía, Old Havana, Teléfono: 861 558 11.
Napoleonic Museum / Museo Napoleónico
Treasures here include a permanent collection of art, arms, furniture, fabrics, and other objects of the Napoleonic Period, including personal objects of Napoleon I himself. The collection is considered one of the most important of this genre in the world.
Address: San Miguel #1159 corner of Ronda, Central Havana
Morro-Cabaña Historical Military Park / Parque Histórico Militar Morro-Cabaña
This historical and military park, formed by the fortresses of El Morro and La Cabaña, is one of the largest museums in the country. Two thematic halls show visitors the history of Havana Harbor shipping and the most important collection of antique weapons in Cuba.
Address: Carretera de La Cabaña, Eastern Havana
Museum of the City / Museo de la Ciudad
Located in the ancient Captain General’s Palace, this museum has permanent art and history collections from the colonial period to the early 20th century. The Palace was seat of the 1791-1899 Spanish governments in Cuba and of the 1902-1920 Presidents of the Republic.
Address: Calle Tacón #1 between Obispo and O’Reilly, Old Havana
Birth Home of José Martí
One of the most outstanding figures of Latin-American literature of the 19th century, José Martí is Cuba’s National Hero and his humble birth home exhibits personal objects of the “Apostle,” whose spirit is felt in every corner of the restored house. This is the place to enrich your knowledge of José Martí and Cuban history in general.
Address: Calle Paula #314, Old Havana
José Martí Memorial
Located in the base of the monument erected to honor the Cuban National Hero in the Revolution Square of Havana, the “Apostle” is honored with exhibits that recall his prolific life.
Address: José Martí Revolution Square
National Museum “Castillo de la Real Fuerza”
Housed in the oldest military fortress in the Americas, a construction dating back to 1577, this museum exhibits works of renowned artists such as Amelia Peláez, Wilfredo Lam, and René Portocarrero. The fortress was the residence of Spanish colonial governors.
Address: Calle O’Reilly and Avenida del Puerto, Old Havana
Postal Museum of Cuba
Valuable documents and writing instruments, along with a universal philatelic collection, are exhibited in the Postal Museum. There is a room devoted entirely to Cuban postage stamps.
Address: Avenida de Rancho Boyeros and 19 de Mayo, in the Ministry Communications, Revolution Square
Historical Museum of Sciences “Carlos J. Finlay”
This is the oldest museum in Cuba and is the original location of the Academy of Natural, Physical and Medical Sciences of Havana. The building itself has been declared a National Monument and became a museum in 1874, named after the famous Cuban doctor Carlos Finlay, who discovered the vector that transmitted yellow fever. The museum gives an overview of science in Cuba, the history of the Royal Academy of Sciences, the involvement of medical professionals in the independence wars, and a summary of international sciences. The library has an historical archive of over 100,000 books.
Address: Calle Cuba #460 between Amargura and Brasil, Old Havana
National Museum of Natural History
The Natural History Museum was reorganized in the 1980s and has become the most important institution of its kind in Cuba due to its wide range of collections. The museum features flora and fauna of Cuba and other regions of the world, including valuable archeological, mammal, fossil and mineral samples, as well as informative materials about the evolution of the Earth. The museum also plays a unique role in public education on environmental issues.
Address: Obispo #61, Plaza de Armas, Old Havana
Felipe Poey Museum of Natural History
With collections compiled in the 19th century by prominent scientist Felipe Poey, this museum has unique pieces, like fish preserved personally by Poey, along with specimens of living fossils and fauna from Cuba and other parts of the world.
Address: Edificio Felipe Poey, lower floor, Plaza Ignacio Agramonte, University of Havana, Vedado.
Museum of Archaeology
Opened in 1987 as part of the Historical Center, the museum has the most extensive collection of archaeological finds in Cuba. Trained in urban archaeology, mural painting, restoration and conservation, the staff help recover material assets of Old Havana. The museum has incredible murals of scenes of the old city.
Address: Calle Tacón #12, between O´Reilly y Empedrado, Central Havana