United States Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, admiring exhibits at??George Washington House during his recent visit to Barbados. (Image: C. Pitt/BGIS)??

Local museums will, this weekend and next week, throw open their doors to join their international counterparts in observing International Museum Day, under the theme ???Museums for Social Harmony.’

International Museum Day, which is observed annually on, or around, May 18, was instituted by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in 1977, in an effort to increase awareness of the role of museums in societal development.

In reflecting on the international observance, Manager of Folkestone Park and Marine Reserve, John Nicholls, stressed: "It is an opportunity for museum professionals to meet the public, since, as suggested by ICOM, museums are at the heart of the system and they are institutions that serve and develop the society. They are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and the development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples."

Similar sentiments were echoed by Marketing Officer of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Christine Skeete, who remarked: "The celebration of International Museum Day is very important, as it reminds the local and visiting public of the role that museums play in preserving the unique heritage of a nation’s people and in revealing how we are linked to significant events in world history." ??Ms. Skeete is also Public Relations Officer for ICOM Barbados.

Over 600-odd primary and secondary schools students are expected to converge on the Folkestone Park & Marine Reserve next week, to participate in a series of lectures and tours which form part of a week of activities from May 17 to 22.

On Monday, May 17, the first lecture and museum tour for secondary school students will take place from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. The topic for that lecture will be ???Impact of Climate Change on Coral Reefs’.

On Tuesday, May 18, International Museum Day, between 300 and 400 primary school students are expected to participate in an educational tour of the museum. It comes off between 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

At 7:30 p.m. that evening, members of the public are invited to attend the International Museum Day lecture at the St. James Secondary School on the topic: ???Historical & Environmental Significance of Folkestone Park & Marine Reserve’.

On Wednesday May, 19, another educational tour for primary schools will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; while on Thursday and Friday, May 20 and 21, the secondary schools’ lecture and museum tours continue between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. each day. The lecture topics for the days are ???Impacts of Marine Reserves on Fisheries’ and ???Beach Management & Marine Research,’ respectively.

On Saturday, May 22, the curtain will come down on the week of events when Folkestone hosts a Museum Open Day and Family Fun Day from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

In addition to public tours of the Museum and Visitor Centre; live entertainment will be provided by DJ General B, as well as by the Tuk-Band and the popular Mother Sally. Craft and variety stalls; plant sales; lifeguard demonstrations; glass bottom boat tours and health checks will also be offered, as well as face painting, jumping tents and other attractions for children.

Meanwhile, the Barbados Museum & Historical Society will be hosting its Museum Open Day this Saturday, May 15, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to mark the international observance. Locals and visitors alike are being encouraged to enjoy the facilities free of cost and to benefit from interaction with persons of various nationalities.

With this year’s International Museum Day theme focusing on dialogue, tolerance, coexistence and development, the Museum Marketing Officer contended: "It is fitting, therefore, for the museum to offer the public an opportunity to interact with people from all over the world, and this is the main feature of the day," she underlined.

Nationals of several countries and representatives of various cultural groups in Barbados will make presentations from 10:30 in the morning, continuing through the day. Sampling of Swedish delicacies, music from China and Sweden and art from Sri Lanka, Italy, China and Sweden are among planned attractions. The journey around the world will culminate with a performance by Guataca at 3:30 p.m.

There will also be music by DJ Gerald B, rock-bottom prices in the Museum Gift Shop’s sale, lucky dips, storytelling and other fun activities. On sale will be local food, European and North American beer, locally made natural wines, jellies, seasonings and marinades, jewellery, a range of plants, including bonsai, and used books at bargain prices.??

Patrons can also view the museum’s two newest photographic exhibitions, Exposed: Images of Yesteryear and Waterworks: A Visual Expedition of Barbados.

Locally, the Barbados National Committee of ICOM is commemorating International Museum Day with an entire week of events during Cultural Heritage Week, which is being observed from May 15 to 22 this year.

Organisational members of the Committee include the Barbados Museum & Historical Society, the National Cultural Foundation, the National Conservation Commission, George Washington House, and several individual artists. The Barbados National Trust, and other museums such as the Nidhe Israel Museum and Arlington House Museum, hold observer status.


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