Museums – they are where a nation’s collective soul resides, housing relics of the past for people of the present to look at and possibly divine the future. But in a rapidly evolving world, are they still relevant? That is a question members of the Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC) are attempting to answer, as they meet in Belize for the first time. Minister of Tourism and Culture, Manuel Heredia Jr., discusses the importance of the meeting.
This conference is the Annual General Meeting of the Association of Museums and we have the president of the Caribbean Association and we have our staff, Mrs. Dyanne Haylock, who is our president and her staff over here to be along in this conference which I think is going to be a fruitful one. As we all know, the museums countrywide and the region-wide are trying to improve. These museums are for everybody and that the museums can also be something that will be together with the Tourism industry”.
Our country’s sole museum is the Museum of Belize, housed at the old Central Prison on Gabourel Lane. But in the near future, according to director of museums and Houses of Culture for NICH, Ms. Sherilyn Jones, there could be a national museum in Belmopan. The professional tells us what it will take for that to happen.
“Well, I think one of the most difficult challenges we have is how to remain relevant, how do we make or stories interesting enough that Belizeans want ot come into the museum and they don’t look at the museum building as a place where foreigners go or visitors go. So, how do I use technology to innovate our exhibitions so that it’s capturing for everyone?
Reporter: “Today, is it the discussion of government or other entities?
Director of Museums: “Well, of course there is never enough money to do what we all want to do, but of course, we are leading the discussion into developing a national museum for the country of Belize in Belmopan and of course, government is key partner in that once we have sourced land. And so, it’s just a matter of just moving the plan and getting the plan forward to Belmopan”.
According to MAC President, Mr. Cyril J. Saltibus of St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean, museums can embrace the trappings of modernity to cater to a younger audience.
Museum Association of the Caribbean President, Mr. Cyril J. Saltibus of St. Lucia
“That’s a beautiful question. What we want to do is to use the tools that exist today. Most of our programs are going to be surrounded in the use of an Ipod; the use of let’s say your Iphone. I will give you an example: in one of our countries we have a program called the Trust Investigators where we encourage kids to go out with their little Ipods to record things and see how they feel about it. So, we want to create more interactive programs where kids can use those gadgets. Another thing is, we want to move into universities and actually make sure that every university, that every school; every education ministry looks at museuology as a cause object area”.
The meeting takes place at the Belize Biltmore Plaza for the next four days.