The Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government has passed legislation in Parliament that will have far-reaching effect on the operations of the Grenada National Museum.
According to government the move is intended to ensure that the museum fulfills the purpose it was intended for when it was first opened by the labour party government of former Prime Minister, Sir Eric Mathew Gairy in 1976.
The Grenada National Museum Bill 2017 was passed at a sitting of the Upper House at the Trade Centre after it was presented by the Minister of Culture, Senator Brenda Hood.
The bill seeks to establish the Grenada National Museum as a body corporate with a Board of Directors to manage and preserve the National Collection of objects, records and other historical and cultural material that provide evidence of the history of the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
According to Sen. Hood, the present museum legislation as it is right now, does not provide for sustainability and the full operation of the institution.
“The current company act does not create a national museum and I believe this is the structure that they have been using – nor does it cater for a professional director, an appropriate Board of Directors, policy development, transparent financial management, membership, sustainability and the overall enhancement of the museum,” she said.
Senator Hood pointed out that the museum has been around for 41 years and the new legislation was passed to make sure that it remains functioning for the next 40 years.
“We don’t want forty years down the road when our children and their children are around, for them to say why didn’t they put a proper structure in place…this didn’t happen…”.
“…We are not going back, we are going forward and this (is) why we are here and this is why the government is adamant that we must put structures in place to make sure that our national museum is a museum that we all can be proud of.
“The legislation will create the necessary foundations from which the museum can acquire property, raise necessary funds, seek technical assistance and work with international institutions to better serve the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
The government senator pointed out that the new legislation is more far reaching that the previous one which was not putting the museum in the right direction it ought to go.
She told Parliament: “By passing this new legislation Mr. Speaker, the Government of Grenada is taking a firm stance on the promotion and the preservation of the island’s heritage for our children and our grand children and we are talking about tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
“This legislation will create a solid foundation from which the museum will grow to become what its founders has set out to do – make a truly national museum that will be sustainable and a success in carrying out its goal.
“…The legislation will create a permanent home for Grenada’s Culture and Heritage. I must say Mr. President, that we the government and I must say a lot of people here in the country appreciate the work of (the late Dr. James DeVere) Pitt (the driving force behind the Museum) … (but) the time has come to move the museum at a higher level…”.
Sen. Hood explained some of the functions the museum under the new legislation will be expected to perform.
She said: “The National Museum will maintain and provide access to the national collection in accordance to the national collection’s policy. They will increase and communicate the knowledge of the national history of Grenada by research, exhibits, publications and by other means.
“…Over the past years, the museum had some…we need to be more professional in what we are doing and this is what it’s all about.
“…We want to make sure that our museum is a facility that provides the necessary information for our people. Our children should be able to go to the museum and see what is available, have a better understanding. We are supposed to preserve what we have.
According to the Heritage Minister, the museum will be given a subvention from government for its operations under a new Board of Directors with new functions rolled out for them.