Historic find for father and son

On a quest to find the famed seaplane wreck in the North Sound, Ricky Zelaya and his son Andrew spotted a rare find: one of the largest recovered pottery artefacts so far and believed to be a relic of the 18th century or earlier.

The Chinese design pottery bowl, which has its entire centre intact, will be investigated by the Museum’s curators to authenticate it more precisely.

The piece was delivered to the Museum on Friday, 9 May and received by Acting Museum Director Debra Barnes-Tabora, who thanked the proud father and son for the ‘historically valuable’ find.

For 11-year-old Andrew, who will be entering the 8th year at the Pace campus of George Hicks in September, it was the first time he had ever found anything this significant.

Mr. Zelaya said when they stumbled upon it, it was lying face down on the sea floor. When they retrieved it, they could see it was antique. ‘We decided then the Museum was the place to take it.’

The pottery shard, following investigation, will join the other recovered artefacts in the re-opened Museum in early 2009. At that time exhibits will be installed and the Museum will resume business as usual.

The Museum is planning a ‘soft’ opening of the building in November, prior to the installation of exhibits. This is to enable the public to see firsthand the outcome of the restoration of the building, which, as the last remaining authenticated building of its vintage, is an artefact of significant importance to the Cayman Islands.

What to do if you find an artefact

Should you encounter something of historic interest or materials of cultural significance, the National Museum urges you to contact it immediately.

Incidental finds of objects of historic interest are a common way through which Museums acquire their collections. So, as the repository for materials relating to our culture and heritage, the Museum urges everyone to be mindful of its mission to preserve objects of importance.

When finds are discovered, the Museum cautions that they must be handled carefully. Recovered objects from the soil or water require professional conservation for their preservation. Improper handling may result in loss of identification and interpretation.

The Museum draws attention to the primary statutes that govern the protection of Cayman’s underwater and maritime heritage. These include the Abandoned Wreck Law (1997 Revision), Wreck and the Salvage Law (1996 Revision), and relevant sections of Marine Conservation Law (1995 Revision).

Please telephone the Museum at 949-8368 if you discover anything of historic or cultural importance.