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Pablo Delano: Uncovering The Museum of the Old Colony

The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture presents a lecture by Pablo Delano on his installation The Museum of the Old Colony, on view at the CADVC from January 30 through March 14. The lecture will be presented in the gallery.

This presentation will trace the development and growth of The Museum of the Old Colony, an art installation by Pablo Delano that derives its name from a U.S. brand of soft drink named Old Colony, popular in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. Through the use of appropriated imagery, film clips, and objects, the installation ironically bears witness to the colonial oppression imposed by the U.S. institutional and cultural fabric on virtually all aspects of Puerto Rican life since the 1898 occupation. With sardonic humor, The Museum of the Old Colony references traditional anthropological museums and their use of ethnographic imagery and didactic texts.

For the past twenty years, Pablo Delano, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, has collected artifacts related to the history of his homeland. After amassing a substantial archive, he began to think about the ways he could, as a visual artist, employ these materials to explore this history. Delano creates dynamic, site-specific art installations that examine the complex and fraught history of U.S. colonialism, paternalism, and exploitation in Puerto Rico. They challenge, as well, the ways traditional museums of history and anthropology tell this story.

The title of The Museum of the Old Colony is a play on words, referencing both the island’s political status and, Old Colony, a popular local soft drink. Spanning more than a century of objects and images, Delano’s installation illuminates the oppression of the past while alluding to the stark reality of Puerto Rico in the present — an unincorporated territory of the United States where U.S. citizens continue to be exploited, ignored, and underrepresented.

The devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017 — and the inadequate federal response that has resulted in widespread displacement, suffering, and death — underscores the second class status of Puerto Rico throughout history. The Museum of the Old Colony asks us to imagine the powerful connection between past and present: lurid and exoticized images of the devastation, exploitation, economic decline, and abandonment that remain tragically salient and topical.

The Museum of the Old Colony is also deeply personal, a means for Delano to better understand and come to terms with the troubling history of Puerto Rico. In the end, his cogent work liberates the story of a people from the limitations and blind spots of history, the museum, and popular culture.


The Museum of the Old Colony was organized for CADVC by Research Professor and Chief Curator Maurice Berger. Earlier versions of this project have been deployed at Alice Yard Art Space (Trinidad and Tobago), The National Gallery of Jamaica (Kingston), The 7th Argentine Biennial of Documentary Photography (Tucumán), King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at New York University (NY), Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico (San Juan) and Hampshire College Art Gallery (Amherst, MA). The Museum of the Old Colony lives in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico | Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico.


Plan Your Visit

The CADVC is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to CADVC exhibitions and all related programming is free and open to the public.

UMBC is located along I-95 about 10 minutes south of the Inner Harbor and 25 minutes north of I-495. The CADVC is located in the Fine Arts Building. For evening and weekend visits, you may park for free in Lot 8, located adjacent to the building. For visits during Monday through Friday during the day, paid parking ($2 per hour, credit and debit cards accepted) is available at metered garages located at Administration Drive, The Commons Drive and Walker Avenue. (Fees are not enforced on University observed holidays.)

UMBC is committed to creating an accessible and inclusive environment for all faculty, staff, students, and visitors.  If you would like to request accommodations (e.g., ASL interpreters, captioning, wheelchair access, etc.) for this event due to a disability, please notify us at least two weeks prior to your visit. Requests received after that time cannot be guaranteed, but we will do our best to make arrangements for program access. Please contact CADVC at cadvc@umbc.edu or 410-455-3188 with your specific request and be sure to mention the event title, date, and time.


Image: IThe Museum of the Old Colony, 2020, installation detail.

Start Date: Thursday, February 20, 2020
Start Time: 7:00 pm

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Department Represented: Visual Arts

Venue Name: Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture

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