Delegates Attend Caribbean Museum Conference

March 17, 2023 | 0 Comments

The Museum Association of the Caribbean [MAC] recently held their 2023 Annual Conference in Nassau, Bahamas and 150 delegates from the cultural and museum sector attended, including three delegates from Bermuda: Executive Director of the National Museum of Bermuda [NMB] and newly elected Co-President of MAC, Elena Strong, NMB Education Consultant Lisa Howie, and NMB Trustee and founder of Olive Branch Consulting Dr. Crystal Clay.

Delegates at the Conference

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“The theme of the four-day conference was “The Power of Museums: Relevancy, Advocacy, Transformation”. Attendees heard from over 40 presenters representing the Dutch, French, Spanish and English-speaking Caribbean and with representation from the Caribbean diaspora from the US, Canada and Europe. Conference sessions, which were hosted by National Art Gallery of Bahamas, University of Bahamas and Central Bank of Bahamas, provided opportunities to share the changes the museum sector has witnessed since the onset of the pandemic and how the sector has responded.

As part of her role as MAC Co-President, Ms. Strong organised a listening session at the conference with museum leaders and ICOM representatives (including Mr. Nyambe), which was facilitated by Dr. Crystal Clay.

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The keynote speaker was the Vice President of the International Council of Museums [ICOM] Terry Nyambe. During the keynote address, Mr. Nyambe and Dr. Shani Roper, Co-President of MAC and Curator at the University of the West Indies Museum, discussed ICOM’s new museum definition, repatriation, and restitution of cultural heritage and how calls for decolonisation are impacting the global museum sector.

The discussion was moderated by Curator and former director of National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, Amanda Coulson. ICOM is a non-governmental worldwide network of over 45,000 museum professionals working to create a world where cultural and natural heritage is universally understood, valued and protected.

Ms. Strong gave opening remarks, welcomed delegates to the conference and thanked conference sponsors

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As part of her role as MAC Co-President, Ms. Strong organised a listening session at the conference with museum leaders and ICOM representatives [including Mr. Nyambe], which was facilitated by Dr. Clay. The aim of the session, which was funded by Smithsonian’s Our Future: Reckoning with our Racial Past & National Museum of African American History and Culture, was to gain clarity on the current strengths, needs and challenges of the Caribbean museum sector and to explore pathways to foster greater collaboration and stronger relationships across the region and with ICOM.

MAC will use the information gathered from the session to guide future work and services to the Caribbean museum sector. The findings will be published and made available to constituents, cultural and government bodies, and funding organisations.

Naeemah Fubler, Elena Strong and Dr. Crystal Clay at the Conference

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Ms. Strong shared: “Even though we know Bermuda is not geographically located in the Caribbean, we share many familial, cultural, and historical ties and a colonial experience. NMB also operates in a similar context to Caribbean museums: we have a small staff and limited resources and are impacted by hot, humid environments and frequent hurricanes.

“What was evident from the Conference is the vital role that Caribbean museums [including Bermuda museums] are playing in their local community, but also globally. At the Conference, attendees heard about how Caribbean museums are critical in shaping identity, undertaking research, sharing multiple perspectives and the lived experiences of people, challenging the dominant narrative, restitution of colonial collections, advancing the global definition of a museum, preserving heritage, fostering well-being, and making communities stronger.

“I encourage everyone in the Bermuda museum and heritage sector to join MAC and attend the annual conference. As a MAC member, you will gain a wide network of peers and access to best practices and creative models to carry out your work. You will also strengthen relationships with colleagues across the Caribbean region, US Canada and Europe, building a stronger cultural heritage sector worldwide.”

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