The UWI Museum is truly a community built space and I am honored to have selected to maintain and expand this treasure. I salute Dr. Suzanne Francis-Brown who worked tirelessly and, with your support created a solid foundation for me to build upon. Suzanne has worked closely with me to facilitate this transition and I am extremely grateful for her support and willingness to share institutional knowledge.
As a UWI alum, I would like to take this opportunity to share a little about myself and my initial plan for the museum over the next few years.
Prior to collecting the Baton from Suzanne, over the last 15 years I worked in various capacities at the Institute of Jamaica. I have benefited from the guidance of mentors throughout my professional development. While working in the Museum of History and Ethnography, Dr. Wayne Modest challenged his staff to think critically about material culture and the ways in which the study of objects challenged and expanded our understanding of the past. At Liberty Hall: the Legacy of Marcus Garvey, for two years I was graced with the guidance of Dr. Donna McFarlane, whose mentorship encouraged me to think critically about the intersection of community engagement, museums education, technology and black empowerment. In this department, I learned about bureaucracy, budgets and accountability but also the power of interactive technologies to expand one’s engagement with a museum. Working in the museum therefore has strengthened my love for history and shaped my engagement with the archive, material culture and stakeholders.
I deeply believe that a sustainable museum must center its community. Our community influences what we collect and what we potentially miss when collecting the present. As such, museums are meant to be accessible spaces to explore, excite, and unpack complex narratives and themes while at the same time encouraging critical thinking. This has been key to Suzanne’s work in building the UWI Museum.
Building upon Suzanne’s legacy, over the next few years, my goal is to systematically expand the Oral History Legacy Project to respond to a fast changing university environment including its physical, institutional and cultural landscape as well as its ever expanding student and alum community. Over the coming year, I will be introducing three different Legacy Project Series:
- Innovators and Inventors
- UWI: Past, Present and Tomorrow
- Her Story
Shaped by what already exists, this thematic approach is to expand upon our existing networks, broaden the object collection and work through defining regionalism within a five campus institution. UWIM will continue to maintain our exhibition, social media and audio visual output and schedule.
As I run along this course, I look forward to engaging all of you and I hope you will be just as willing to share your memories with me.
I’m an Irvinite “Know Thyself” 🙂