Old treasures in new exhibitions

If you haven’t been to the Cayman Islands National Museum in recent months, it’s time for a visit.

There are three new exhibits opening on Saturday, 8 December, which will showcase some of the items from the National Collection that are not always easy to exhibit and are rarely seen.

Museums typically have 10 per cent or less of their collection on display at any one time, says Debra Barnes-Tabora, collections manager at the National Museum.

Cayman’s museum has in its possession some 8,500 artefacts, of which about only 4 per cent are exhibited at any one time. Ancient artefacts would be damaged by the exposure to light, she says, if they were permanently displayed, so these items are rotated and temporary exhibitions put on in order to showcase different pieces from the collection. The general public would also have no reason to return to a museum, she adds, if the exhibitions did not change.

New exhibits

The first of the changing exhibitions, titled “From the Collection”, includes a number of maritime items that were once used in daily life here, or have washed up on Cayman’s shores. This includes miniature templates of catboats that were used to build the actual boats, an Edmonson’s Lighting System lantern that was once used to light up the lantern of an East End lighthouse, and a Japanese fishing buoy that drifted here on ocean currents. The centre piece is a 110-year-old dugout canoe that probably originated in Honduras or Nicaragua.

In the Children’s Gallery an interactive display will introduce 4 to 12 year olds to the Cayman Islands’ National Heroes, their faces sometimes hidden behind layers of information and history. Youngsters will learn through multi-sensory exhibits about the national bird, tree and flower of the Cayman Islands and be able to play the national song on a keyboard.

The third exhibition tells the life story, through awards and certificates, of Miss Olive Miller.

Miss Miller arrived in Cayman in the 1940s as a missionary. She fell in love, married a Caymanian and has been here ever since, serving her adopted community. Over the years she has helped the Rev. George Hicks found the Cayman Islands High School; she also co-founded the Pink Ladies, and started the National Council of Voluntary Organisations and the Girls Brigade. Her work has earned her 16 community awards including the Spirit of Excellence Award on National Heroes Day, a Member of the British Empire Award and she was named one of five Quincentennial Women.

Look Ya!

Coinciding with the opening of these new exhibitions, a big ole Look Ya! will also take place on Saturday, 8 December, between 10am and 2pm.

Look Ya brings together artisans and cooks from all the districts to celebrate Caymanian heritage. Look Ya takes place along Goring Avenue and in the courtyard of the museum with typical Caymanian food being served, and artisans demonstrating traditional activities. It’s a colourful, vibrant occasion and a chance for Caymanians to be reminded of their heritage and for visitors to learn more about the culture of the islands, Debra says.

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