The Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) are ramping up efforts, to promote and protect Jamaica’s artefacts.
As part of efforts to promote Jamaica’s heritage, both organizations were present at the Independence Village, held recently at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, where they showcased an array of artefacts that are a significant part of Jamaica’s history.
Curator at the JNHT, Ann-Marie Howard Brown told JIS News that promoting cultural awareness is one of the organization’s main priorities.
“We do try in our own little way to educate Jamaicans on how to preserve the heritage through public education where we go into schools and show the artefacts to students and teach them about how it relates to what they are learning and what we have inherited from all these persons who make up Jamaica,” she said.
She said that persons enjoyed the exhibitions and were able to reflect on their heritage.
“Persons from all over have come and enjoyed our booth. We have had different reactions about the items we have on display… and many persons came here reminiscing about the days when they used some of the items,” she added.
The IOJ’s booth was transformed into a mini-museum in which artefacts from the various divisions of the organization were showcased each day.
Public Relations Officer at the IOJ, Josette Ricketts-Blake, said the exhibition has helped persons to gain more knowledge about Jamaican Culture.
“Persons have come to the booth and they see, for example, artefacts from slavery and emancipation, they see the shackles but they also see where we have grown over the years…so it is a spark for interest and persons leave knowing more about their culture,” she said.
Meanwhile, newly appointed IOJ’s Executive Director, Vivian Crawford, told JIS News that there are major challenges that the organization faces in the preservation of artefacts.
“As a country we are not aware enough about our heritage, and because we are not aware we destroy. One major obstacle we face is that some of the objects are used as scrap iron, people also steal some of the objects and try to sell them,” he said.
Mr. Crawford expressed the view that it is imperative for Jamaicans to learn more about their history.
He stated that the IOJ has implemented several initiatives which are geared towards the retention and preservation of the culture.
One such initiative is the Moveable Property Culture Programme, which allows citizens to be educated about Jamaica’s heritage by going into communities to give presentations.
Additionally, he said, the IOJ engages with tertiary institutions to promote cultural awareness among students.
The Executive Director added that a legislative programme is being put in place for the conservation of these resources. He stated that this will help to regulate the destruction of artefacts, in that persons will be made more aware and will be punished if they do not comply with the regulations.
He urged Jamaicans to play their part in protecting and preserving the country’s cultural heritage.
“Talk about the heritage. We should not think it is just for children, it should be driven by adults. We should know more about where we are coming from and that is what history is about, that is what the museums are about, so let us preserve it so that the next generation can have a part of it,” he said
The 137-year-old institute will be hosting a lecture on August 17 at 10:00 a.m. at the Liberty Hall, Kings Street, Kingston, to commemorate the birthday of Jamaican National Hero His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey. It will be held under the theme, “Education for Liberation: The role of museums.”
The IOJ seeks to achieve its mission of enhancing the awareness of the Jamaican cultural heritage, through its seven divisions.
The divisions are the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica, the Jamaica Music Museum, the National Gallery of Jamaica and the Programmes Coordination Division which consists of the Junior Centres, the Natural History Museum of Jamaica, the National Museum of Jamaica and Liberty Hall.
The JNHT also has a similar mission, aiming to preserve and develop Jamaica’s material cultural heritage.