The curators behind “Caribbean: Crossroads of the World,” a collaborative exhibition staged at three city museums, challenge visitors to think of the tropical region as more than a vacationland full of palm trees and straw hats. The island group is an intersection of American, African, Asian and European cultures, and has played muse to a bevy of artists for more than two centuries. So it’s no wonder it took almost a decade to plan and stage this multimedia show, which opens Tuesday 12 at El Museo del Barrio and follows with displays at the Queens Museum of Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem. “It’s really the first time that there’s been a comprehensive overview of Caribbean art, focusing on over 200 years of history,” says Elvis Fuentes, director of the project, which will showcase 500 works from more than 300 artists. “We have a lot of contemporary Caribbean artists, but we also have to look at traveling artists, who didn’t go to the Caribbean but whose work was inspired by it and shaped the view of the region.” In addition to native works from two dozen Caribbean territories—Aruba, Barbados, Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands among them—the exhibition boasts pieces from a number of international masters, including two Martinique-inspired zinc lithographs from French Postimpressionist Paul Gauguin at El Museo. Read on to learn about a highlight at each institution.