The history of Cuban chugs in Key West
The Key West Botanical Garden Society presents Dr. John Bratton, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of West Florida on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 at 5 p.m., in the Toppino Nature Chapel at the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden.
Dr Bratton will be speaking on the Cuban Chug Conservation and Restoration Project. This project will restore and protect the Garden’s existing Chug Exhibit of homemade migrant boats (Chugs). The Chug Exhibit is the only known collection of this size anywhere. Dr. Bratton will also discuss artifact conservation and maritime archaeology tracking the decades of history in relations between the Florida Keys and Cuba. Cubans have helped to build Key West for the last 200 years and their story is entrenched in the history of the City.
In 1980, 125,000 Cubans seeking refuge legally journeyed to Florida in boats from Mariel Harbor. The “Wet Foot/Dry foot” policy (1995-1917) allowed migrants to stay in the U.S. if they reached land. The Cuban Chub Exhibit was established 15 years ago and represents many decades of history. It is the only known collection of this size anywhere. The 10 boats tell a visual story of desperate migrants seeking freedom.
Admission is free for members and $10 for non-members. The event will also be recorded and available after this date on the Garden’s website.