Tue | Jul 23, 2019

Jamaica observes International Museum Day

Published:Wednesday | May 29, 2019 | 12:27 AMPaul H Williams - Hospitality Jamaica Writer
Valentine ‘Koda’ McLean teaching some youngsters to make jewellery.
Valentine ‘Koda’ McLean teaching some youngsters to make jewellery.

Museums are a major part of the repository of a nation’s history and culture. And according to the International Council of Museums, they “acquire, conserve, research, communicate, and exhibit” humanity’s tangible and intangible heritage.

They are storehouses to which people go to acquire knowledge about people, places, events, and things from the past. They are major stops on the world’s heritage tourism landscapes, and it is said that more tourists than locals visit museums all over the world.

On Saturday, May 18, 2019, the world observed International Museum Day (IMD), an initiative coordinated since May 1977 by the International Council of Museums, which says that IMD “gives the chance for professionals of museums to meet the people and inform them about the challenges museums face”. Also, IMD serves as a platform for raising public awareness on the part museums play today in the improvement of society on a national level.

Here in Jamaica, the day was coordinated and hosted by National Museum Jamaica (NMJ), a division of the Institute of Jamaica, in collaboration with The Jamaica Military Museum and Library, located at the Jamaica Defence Force’s (JDF) headquarters at Up Park Camp in St Andrew.

At NMJ, there were interactive tours, and in keeping with the 2019 international theme of ‘Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Traditions’, two outdoor sections were ­transformed into a hive of cultural activities including games, drumming and dancing, ­jewellery making, painting, and art and craft sales.

A mento band, which some patrons were seeing for the first time, livened up the atmosphere with some timeless traditional and non-traditional songs. And, of course, the day would not have been complete without some traditional Jamaican food and beverages.

Over by the JDF, activities under the theme ‘Technology and Museums Reaching the Unreachable Through Social Media’ ­included exhibition tours and ­demonstrations. Visitors were expected to interact through an online virtual museum and touch-screen technology.

The current exhibitions at NMJ include those on Ubuntu; Treasures, Mysteries and Stories; Dolls of Japan; and the Tainos.