The National Museum: A longstanding sanctuary for Guyana’s cultural, social and political history


By Correspondent

Old fashioned as it may seem today, there is no doubt that Guyana’s National Museum continues to be a longstanding safe haven for the nation’s cultural, social and political history.

But to appreciate the importance of this institution, one must reflect on its genesis.

This prized entity was established in February 1868.

Research indicates that the idea for the establishment of this historical site can be credited to the members of what was once called the Royal Agricultural and Commercial Society (RACS) of the then British Guiana.

In 1844, it was the objective of this group for the then British Guiana to have a museum which would serve to hold interesting findings regarding soil types, minerals, plants and animals.

The NewsRoom understands that it was British explorer Robert Schomburgk, along with German botanist Carl Ferdinand Appun, Mr Bratt, and W.H. Campbell who presented over 50 prime native woods of Guyana, minerals from England, and specimens of botany and geology to the RACS. This was to be some of the first artifacts of the Museum Collection. But it was not meant to be. In fact, a terrible blaze in 1864 destroyed the items.

But even when that occurred, all was not lost. In 1867, a British Guiana Museum Company was created so as to facilitate the creation of a structure would be the home of industry, science and art. Great monetary support followed the venture and the nation was able to see the opening of its first museum on Company Path on February 13, 1868. The museum had a lineup of outstanding curators over the years, one of which included Dr Walter Roth.

A few years later, a second storey building was granted to the Georgetown Public Library and it was used to house more museum collections.

As use of the Public Free Library expanded, new space for the museum was considered. In July 1950, the RACS assumed control of the British Guiana Museum from the Public Free Library. Additionally, the new museum building at North Road and Hincks Street was reopened on July 28, 1951.

The National Museum remains divided into basically three sections- Natural history, social history and industrial. The Museum opens from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00pm.

Today the museum represents an interesting collection of exhibits. The museum continues to grow with the staging of exhibitions and educational awareness programmes aimed at bringing the museum to life, a source of inspiration for those who walk through its doors every day.

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