Rope pays another year’s rent

National Museum celebrates 20th anniversary

In 1956, thatch rope made in Cayman was sold overseas, bringing the country revenue of well over 18,000 pounds sterling. The rope was valuable in the fishing and shipping industries because of its strength and salt-resistance.

On Saturday morning, 3 December, 2011, thatch rope showed its value again. Omar McLean, deputy chairman of the board for the Cayman Islands National Museum, presented Cabinet Minister Mark Scotland a coil of rope, thereby paying for rent of the museum premises another year.

Director Peggy Leshikar-Denton explained that the building that houses the museum is the old Court House, owned by Government. In 1990, the late Thomas Jefferson as Financial Secretary signed an agreement with museum trustees leasing the building to the museum for 50 years on annual payment of a peppercorn.

Since a peppercorn – a dried berry ground for seasoning – is a legal term for any nominal consideration, the thatch rope more than fulfilled the lease agreement.

It also reminded onlookers of what the museum is all about — preservation, research and dissemination of all aspects of the Caymanian heritage for present and future generations.

Saturday’s celebration began with a brief programme, emceed by Jennifer Ahearn, chief officer in the Ministry of Culture. Following a welcome from Ms Denton, Pastor Stanwyck Myles said the prayer and Premier McKeeva Bush joined Katherine Jackson in singing the National Song. Berna Thompson-Cummins, a board member from the beginning, shared the history of the museum.

After receiving the year’s rent, Mr. Scotland pointed out that the building itself is the museum’s biggest artefact.

Museum Collections Manager Debra Barnes-Tabora introduced two new exhibits. They were set up as part of the anniversary celebration but will remain in place for general viewing.

One features the Kitchen Dance and the other is the Linton N. Tibbetts exhibit in gallery style.

Mr. Linton’s daughter, Donna Tibbetts-Hooker, cut the ceremonial ribbon to the exhibits.

Mr. Linton, whose passing earlier this year was mourned on all three Islands and in the US, was made an Officer in the Order of the British Empire in 2003 in recognition of his services to the development of the Cayman Islands. He was a trustee on the museum board.

It is fitting that the exhibit honouring him contains both hand tools and a DVD presentation, since Mr. Linton revered the implements with which his forefathers crafted both buildings and ships, but he also respected and learned to use electronic technology.

While visitors were free to explore all exhibits in the two-storey building, the courtyard and street outside featured entertainment, crafts and food for sale. Among the performers were Aunt Julia Hydes with her drum, the George Town Primary School Quadrille Dancers, the Cayman Folk Singers, musicians Randy Chollette, Damien Thaxter, Noel Wallace and Gordon Solomon.

One of the highlights was a generation-bridging song written recently by Mr. Solomon. Christmas Breeze recalled other eras while it encapsulated the atmosphere of 3 December, 2011.

After receiving the year’s rent, Mr. Scotland pointed out that the building itself is the museum’s biggest artefact.

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