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Celebrating the Legacy of Margarita Cano (1932 - 2024)


In the realm of Miami's cultural landscape, Margarita Cano stands out as a figure of profound influence, particularly within the Miami-Dade Public Library System. Throughout her 30-year career at the Library, she pioneered significant advancements, including the development of the Library’s Permanent Art Collection, the curation of several notable art exhibitions featuring local artists from Miami, and her role in organizing and launching the first Miami Book Fair.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Cano’s work was influential both within and beyond the Library. She was instrumental in presenting the first exhibition by CINTAS Fellows in 1977. The CINTAS Fellowship supports and recognizes Cuban artists in various disciplines, including architecture and design, creative writing, music composition, photography, and the visual arts.

As a dedicated member of the CINTAS Foundation for many years, Cano also notably launched an exhibition on Colonial Cuba titled The Romance of an Era and ultimately was honored with the CINTAS Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. Cano also served on the board of directors for the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture for which she organized the exhibition The Miami Generation: Nine Cuban-American Artists, which traveled to various cities for viewing from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia.

Following her retirement in 1993, Cano continued to contribute to the arts through her own creative pursuits, which included painting and writing children's books that captured the essence of the Cuban immigrant experience, conveying both the yearning and hardships of immigration. She also co-founded the Library’s Vasari Project to preserve Miami-Dade County’s past and future art history.

A retrospective of Cano's work titled Margarita Cano: 90 Years at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) Art Museum Fort Lauderdale provided further testament to her enduring legacy, emphasizing her ability to evoke emotion and provoke thought through her artistic expression.

Drawing of a woman holding her child on a raft on the ocean, surrounded by sharks
Drawing of a woman surrounded by bubbles
Abstract drawing of a woman holding her child

From her artist book, “Cuba: Paradise Lost” -  Flight to Freedom, The Tumbler, and Virgin of Charity, 2004

Cano’s diverse educational background, holding degrees in biochemistry, physics, and library science, brought a unique blend of expertise to her artistic endeavors. This multidisciplinary approach also sparked her exploration of abstract art.

Abstract shape in a black square
Abstract shape in a black square

As we reflect on Cano's impact, we recognize her as a trailblazer in Miami’s cultural landscape. Her commitment to promoting cultural exchange, professionalism, and dedication to the arts continues to inspire the Miami-Dade County community and beyond. To discover more about Margarita Cano’s contributions and legacy, click here.