National museum launches book to celebrate 25th anniversary

To mark its first quarter-century, the Cayman Islands National Museum is launching a book and holding an outdoor party.

The National Museum celebrates International Museum Day on May 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The National Museum celebrates International Museum Day on May 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

On International Museum Day, Wednesday, May 18, the museum will host Big Ole’ Looky Ya festivities outside its building.

In the evening, the museum will celebrate the launch of “Twenty-Five Years: Piece by Piece,” a book featuring items from the museum collection, to mark the milestone. The publication will feature 25 pieces found in the “Twenty-Five Years” exhibit and a timeline of the museum’s history.

“We think it’s a good milestone, to look back at the last 25 years,” said museum director Peggy Leshikar-Denton. “We’re grateful to every entity [which has] helped us.”

As well as using the event to mark International Museum Day, the museum also intends to use the occasion to honor its founders, supporters and donors.

As part of a team led by Debra Barnes-Tabora, curations and collections manager at the museum, intern Shenice McField said, “It was difficult to select items [for the book] because there were so many that were relevant to our culture. Many objects in the museum are unique.”

With many of the pieces having been donated to the museum, “we want to encourage people to contribute to the [preservation] of our culture,” Ms. McField added.

“It’s important to conserve items not only from the past,” said Ms. Leshikar-Denton, “but for the future, with modern items.”

During International Museum Day, exhibits such as “Twenty-Five Years” “Museum Dress-Up” and “Georgette Ebanks nee Hurlston” will be open to the public.

The “Twenty-Five Years” and “Museum Dress-Up” exhibitions were first made public last November as a commemoration of the National Museum’s 25th anniversary.

As part of the National Museum’s year-long anniversary celebrations, both exhibitions will continue until November 2016.

The launch of the “Twenty-Five Years: Piece by Piece” book, which took just under a year to put together, will be held in the museum’s courtyard from 6-8 p.m. for invited guests.

Entertainment will be provided by Denom Bodden and local foods by The Caribbean Kitchen, at the Old Gaol Café.

Big Ole’ Looky Ya

During the Big Ole’ Looky Ya, which begins at 10 a.m., Goring Avenue will be closed. The public is invited to join in the cultural and artistic festivities.

At this year’s Looky Ya, artisans from Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands will feature their crafts at 20 tables. The museum has hosted Looky Ya festivities for about 15 years.

According to Ms. McField, this year’s International Museum Day theme, “Museums and Cultural Landscapes,” fits well, as the museum itself serves as a cultural landscape.

“Our building is one of the oldest standing historic buildings in public use,” said Ms. McField, a history major at the University of North Florida.

“The thing about museums,” said Ms. Leshikar-Denton, “is that we’re in service of society. We don’t work for profit. We work to preserve the value of Cayman.”

The book “Twenty-Five Years” will be sold exclusively at the museum for now. “We’re going to donate a quantity to the Ministry of Education to make sure there is a copy in every school,” said Ms. Leshikar-Denton.

On the evening of the book launch, the museum will also conduct its annual peppercorn payment to the Cayman Islands government. The peppercorn payment is an annual payment of a traditional coil of thatch rope in exchange for the government leasing the former Old Courts Building for museum use.

Every November on its anniversary, the museum commemorates this payment, but this year it is celebrated in May, on International Museum Day.

Big Ole’ Looky Ya will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the waterfront.

For more information, contact the National Museum at 949-8368 or [email protected]