Smithsonian to help recover damaged artefacts

A Bahamas flag flies tied to a sapling, amidst the rubble left by Hurricane Dorian in Abaco in September. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

A Bahamas flag flies tied to a sapling, amidst the rubble left by Hurricane Dorian in Abaco in September. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

By Leandra Rolle


THE Bahamas has linked up with the Smithsonian Institute to rescue and recover items of cultural importance on Abaco and Grand Bahama after Hurricane Dorian.

The National Museum of the Bahamas and Antiquities Monuments & Museums Corporation has partnered with the Smithsonian for the effort. During a press conference on Tuesday, AMMC acting director Kim Outten noted that they will be visiting the storm-affected islands this week to assess the museums and other historical landmarks affected by the storm.

“The most important concerns initially would’ve been life and property, but now we’re looking at our cultural resources because in the end, in some instances, it’s the only thing that we do have left and those oral traditions and those stories that come out of this, the libraries that we will preserve, the collections that we stabilise, we hope will be able to tell their stories,” she said.

The powerful Category Five storm made landfall in Abaco and Grand Bahama early last month, decimating a number of homes and businesses.

And according to Mrs Outten, the storm also destroyed one of their offices in Marsh Harbour, which housed many of their historical collections.

“Our office was totally destroyed during the hurricane. But, we’re very happy to say that the collections were saved, and they are presently being stabilised and fumigated through a partnership with the University of Florida in Gainesville,” she added.

Mrs Outten thanked the Smithsonian for its willingness to assist with the recovery efforts of cultural resources on the storm-affected islands.

Dr Richard Kurin, who is a member of the Smithsonian team, said the institution was pleased to offer its help after hearing about the devastation wrought by Dorian.

Over the years, the Smithsonian has assisted with a number of international efforts throughout the world to conserve cultural heritage in the wake of natural disasters.

In fact, in 2010, their team led the Haiti cultural recovery after the earthquake hit. Additionally, they also worked in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

Dr Kurin said after conducting initial assessments on Abaco and Grand Bahama, they will then provide recommendations and develop plans to help with the restoration process.

“We have a wide ride range of conservation skills that could help with the collections here in (The Bahamas) but we also can help tie into other resources of US government and the cultural community,” he noted.

“But, we really need understand this situation carefully and come up with real plans and that is what we look forward to doing, working with the AMMC… But, this is the beginning of a process.”


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