Museums that interpret our history must themselves be interpreted, because they are also products of history! That’s the message recently brought to listeners at the UWI Museum by Alissandra Cummins, Director of the Barbados Museum and past President of the International Council of Museums (ICOM).
Cummins is co-editor (with Kevin Farmer and Roslyn Russell) of a book titled, Plantation to Nation. Caribbean Museums & National Identity. She was speaking March 14 at a Jamaican launch co-hosted by the UWI Museum and National Museums, Jamaica.
Curator Suzanne Francis-Brown in welcoming the collaboration, noted how appropriate it was, given the regional role of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Cummins agreed. She said that UWI had a central role in this area, both historically and because it taught history and heritage, and must ensure that the material it uses is reflective of the breadth of Caribbean experience. She argued for a positive connection between the development of curricula to address heritage resource management, and the opening of an increasing number of museums through which people in the region are trying to tell their stories.
Two of the contributing authors, National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) Director Veerle Poupeye and Rebecca Tortello of the Spanish Jamaican Foundation, also discussed their chapters – Poupeye’s on the presentation of Jamaican art history, and Tortello on the experience of children in museums.
To get a copy of the book for yourself, you can get in touch with Alissandra Cummins at the Barbados Museum. Their website is www.barbmuse.org And we’ll be happy to pick up on this discussion on the role of the museum – old and new, large and small, in the Caribbean and beyond.