Bahamas News

BAHAMAS: Smithsonian Institution to Assist with Cultural Rescue and Recovery Following Hurricane Dorian

#Nassau, November 4, 2019 – Bahamas – The Smithsonian Institution (SI) has offered to assist the National Museum of The Bahamas/Antiquities, Monuments and Museum Corporation (AMMC) in the rescue and recovery of cultural heritage resources.  The announcement was made during a press conference held at the National Museum on Tuesday, 29th October.  Also in attendance were Director of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Captain Stephen Russell and Director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB), Ms. Amanda Coulson.

Acting Director of the AMMC, Mrs. Kim Outten-Stubbs said they were very pleased with the offer of assistance from the Smithsonian.

“We are very pleased that AMMC can now speak to its role in rescue, recovery and assessment in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian,” she said. “The initial stage of hurricane recovery was the security of life and property. Now, we wish to address our cultural heritage — those elements which speak to our culture – our libraries, museums, stories, that were lost or damaged in the storm.”

Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, Dr. Richard Kurin, will lead the team of experts from the Smithsonian. He said as soon as they learnt that The Bahamas had been so negatively impacted by the storm, they were ‘moved’ to assist in rescue and recovery efforts.

“The Bahamas is very dear to me and so when we heard what happened here, our hearts went out to the Bahamian people,” he said. “We worked with The Bahamas 25 years ago. Culture is what makes people who they are. When we heard of books and art being destroyed, we knew what our duties would be: to help our Bahamian brothers and sisters.”

Both Director Russell (NEMA) and Director Coulson (NAGB) pledged their support to the Smithsonian initiative.

A team of persons including: Mrs. Kim Outten-Stubbs; Administrative Consultant, Mr. Alexander Flowers and Historic Preservation Architect Consultant, Ms. Alicia Oxley will accompany the team from the Smithsonian, which includes: Dr. Kurin; Director, of Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI), Ms. Cori Wegener; Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow (SCRI), Dr. Nana Kaneko; Senior Book Conservator, Smithsonian Libraries, Ms. Katie Wagner and Collections Care Specialist (SCRI), Ms. Rebecca Kennedy.

The team planned visit of Abaco on Wednesday and Thursday and Grand Bahama on Friday to commence their initial assessments. The objective of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI), an arm of the SI that will play a major role in the assessment, is to ‘protect cultural heritage threatened or impacted by disasters and to help United States and international communities preserve their identity and history. The SCRI led the Haiti Cultural Recovery after the 2010 earthquake, worked in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after hurricanes Maria and Irma and has assisted in Texas and Nebraska after major flooding. They also worked in Iraq.

The AMMC will serve as the partnering agency to represent The Bahamas and guide the SI during this assessment mission to Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands. The various governmental agencies, chief counselors and the local communities of these islands are providing information and assistance on the ground as the team travels through the various communities.

By Betty Vedrine

Release: BIS

Photo Caption: The Smithsonian Institution (SI) has offered to assist the National Museum of The Bahamas/Antiquities, Monuments and Museum Corporation (AMMC) in the rescue and recovery of cultural heritages resources.  The announcement was made during a press conference held at the National Museum on Tuesday, 29th October 2019.   Pictured L-R: Director of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Captain Stephen Russell and Director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB), Ms. Amanda Coulson; Director, of Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI), Ms. Cori Wegener; Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-large, Dr. Richard Kurin; Acting Director of the AMMC, Mrs. Kim Outten-Stubbs; Deputy Chairperson (AMMC), Ms. Lynn Gape; and Administrative Consultant, Mr. Alexander Flowers.  

(BIS Photo/ Betty Vedrine)

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