National Museum Director Dr Harris To Retire

October 17, 2017

Dr Edward Harris Bermuda Oct 2017The National Museum of Bermuda’s Executive Director, Dr. Edward Cecil Harris, will retire at the end of 2017, after 37 years of dedicated service, the Museum’s Board of Trustees has announced.

Dr. Harris, 70, will continue as a special advisor to the Museum, as well as pursuing his writing and research. He will be succeeded by the Museum’s Deputy Director & Curator, Elena Strong.

“Edward’s major achievements through his work at the museum have been magnificent, but underpinning the work he also laid an extraordinarily rich foundation of relationships with academics, donors, members and friends across the globe,” said James Hallett, NMB Board of Trustees Chairman.

“We look forward to his continued counsel and support in retirement and are delighted with his contributions in preparing Elena Strong to be his successor. Elena will bring new skills and a different perspective, placing the Museum in good hands for its future strategic development.”

Dr. Harris has noted: “As a Bermudian, it has been an honour to serve the country in the role of Director of the Museum and I thank all of those from government and private life who made the advance of the Museum possible by their many contributions to the cause”.

A Bermudian archaeologist, Dr. Harris joined the then Bermuda Maritime Museum in 1980 as its first Director, overseeing the institution’s evolution from a derelict fortress into today’s world-class, award-winning heritage centre as the National Museum of Bermuda.

A former Mount St. Agnes student, he graduated from Columbia University, New York in 1971, and earned a PhD at the University College London in 1979.

He has gained worldwide renown for inventing in 1973 a method by which stratigraphic sequences of archaeological sites could be viewed in diagram form for the first time: the system is called the “Harris Matrix” and has became the industry standard for such sites. His resulting book, Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy, has been published in seven languages, with four more translations in the offing.

Dr. Harris is well known as a leader in Bermuda cultural heritage preservation, championing archaeological investigation on land and underwater. He long argued for legislation to preserve Bermuda’s invaluable array of early shipwreck sites and was instrumental in the successful campaign for a UNESCO World Heritage Site status for Bermuda in 2000 for the Town of St. George’s and Associated Fortifications.

He is also the leading expert on Bermuda’s fortfications and armaments, and is the author of the definitive Bermuda Forts, 1612–1957, among scores of his published academic and popular books, papers, and articles, including the long-running Heritage Matters newspaper column.

National Museum Bermuda Oct 2017

Dr. Harris is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, London; a Fellow at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, Rhode Island; and a member of The Explorers Club, New York. In 2000, in recognition of his services to Bermuda’s cultural heritage, he was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty The Queen.

Under his decades of leadership, Museum staff, trustees, donors, academics, students and volunteers have worked to establish the Museum as an outstanding institution, both locally and internationally. Under his vision, it grew from the ruins of an abandoned fort to a first-class museum with award-winning restored historic buildings and a publishing house that has produced more than 50 books and journals relating to Bermuda history.

A major achievement was the remarkable restoration of the unique Commissioner’s House, which the Museum saved from demolition and brought back to life after a major fundraising campaign. The House is now the premier historic building in Bermuda of international importance and is filled with exhibits relating to Bermuda’s cultural heritage.

Over the next few months, several events will be held to mark Dr. Harris’s many contributions and set the stage for his retirement. The first will be the “Out with a BANG” celebration on November 18, to which all Museum members and the general public are invited.

The huge party will mark both his retirement and help raise funds for the Museum to continue its work in heritage preservation and research. Tickets go on sale at the end of the week. For more information contact

click here Bermuda National Museum of Bermuda

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Comments (8)

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  1. Nicky says:

    Dr Harris accomplishments have been many and his service to Bermuda Cultuaral Heritage outstanding. He deserves countless accolades and praise. The Museum Board of Trustees know how to do things right. Well done to the Trustees, Ms Strong and Dr Harris.

  2. Stuart Galloway says:

    Congratulations upon your impending retirement, Edward!
    It has been my great pleasure and not a little pride to have been involved in the Museum since 1980, working as an architect with OBMI (as they are now) from 1980 – 89, and subsequently with Conyers & Associates (1994 – 2000).
    In addition to carrying out some interior work on Commissioner’s House with Charles Daniels (OBM), I was the lead architect for the Corange Laboratory, plus various other schematics suggested by Edward, as he explored the possibilities of the House, the other buildings, and the Keep Yard.
    When I returned to the island in 1994, I worked with Edward on many aspects of the Commissioner’s House, including the Wardroom, exterior, several exhibition areas, the kitchen and the main east entrance/flagpole/cannons area. We even managed to fit in an elevator in anticipation of our later years (we are exactly the same age, certainly to the day, but almost to the hour!).
    Edward has been an inspiration for the museum, and Bermuda, and I always thoroughly enjoyed working with him (he has a fine appreciation for architecture, and surely developed my appreciation for the island’s history), the museum staff, the volunteers and donors.
    My wife and I have donated what we can to the museum, and in honor of Edward’s retirement, I will be donating my collection of Bermuda First Day Stamp Covers (1935 to the present) to the Museum next May, during a trip to be arranged. Edward – please put that in your calendar!

  3. Jean Foggo Simon says:

    Thank you Dr. Harris for your dedication to Bermuda and the work you and your teams have accomplished. Congratulations on your retirement. You will be missed, but you so deserve a time to relax.

  4. Ken Spurling says:

    Congratulations Elena!

  5. Jennifer Harris-Williams says:

    Congratulations, Edward !!!

    You have certainly earned it and i know that you’ll love the time to relax and enjoy the island at it’s fullest !!

    Plus you can do more Harris project around your property !!!

    Just let me know when you have a list ready as we’d love to come and visit along with completing a Harris project or two !!

    Love you plenty,
    Your baby sister !

  6. Dr Adrian Webb says:

    Bermuda has been incredibly fortunate in having someone of Edward’s calibre and dedication championing every aspect of its unique cultural heritage.

    Edward – You deserve a rest after so many great achievements across so many different fields of study. I am looking forward to the day when a full size bronze statue of you is unveiled in front of the museum so that generations to come will know who put the dockyard on the map.

  7. Phil Tutty says:

    And another book featuring the Bermuda Defense Force and its journey to the front via Grimsby, England (very different place from Bermuda!) In WW 1? You’re welcome back to Lincoln, the home of the Lincolnshire Regiment anytime.

  8. Dr. Kim DR says:

    Edward, the people of Bermuda are indebted to you for the amazing legacy you have created for our island. A million thanks! Your contributions to our island’s heritage are legion.

    And congratulations to Elena!