MIAMI – An exhibit displaying an array of objects that belonged to late Cuban singer Celia Cruz opened on Thursday at Miami’s American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora.
“This year will mark the 15th anniversary of Celia’s death, and what better city than Miami to commemorate it, even though she never lived here,” the curator of “Forever Celia,” Omer Pardillo, told EFE.
A score of dresses and pairs of shoes, close to as many wigs and a myriad of documents – including the passport Celia used to leave Cuba, where she never returned – as well as a variety of trophies, Grammy Awards, never-before-seen photographs and records, are some of the items gracing Pardillo’s collection.
“Celia is always on the table, but we had never been able to gather so many of her personal effects for public display before,” said Pardillo, who met Celia in New Jersey at the age of 14 and went on to become her manager.
Pardillo was compelled to travel around the world purchasing an assortment of objects that had belonged to his dear friend from private collectors, including the singer’s first passport to travel to Venezuela in 1948.
“A Swedish collector had purchased it in Cuba for $100,” he said. “It cost me $4,000 to recover it, but it doesn’t matter, it’s here.”
The show – which enjoyed great success in 2005 at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History – also includes the singer’s office, as well as an “interactive” dressing room.
Visitors will also get a chance to catch a glimpse of her legendary performance of “Guantanamera” during a trip to Zaire in 1974 on the sidelines of an epic match between reigning champion George Foreman and Muhammad Ali.