Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 11th 2014 Contents A11
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Just four months after art lovers hailed
the opening of San Fernando s first muse-
um, its doors have been closed, leaving its
founding exhibitors seeking a new home
for their artifacts.
Opened last October by former mayor
Dr Navi Muradali, the temporary museum,
at the former Public Transportation Service
Corporation (PTSC) building at Circular
Road, is being converted to a disaster man-
agement centre and a storage yard by the
San Fernando City Corporation.
Deputy mayor Junia Regrello said the cur-
rent council took a decision to close the
museum since last November. The museum
featured the collections of late historian and
journalist Louis B Homer and cultural activist
Junior Bisnath. All the artifacts have been
returned to Bisnath and Homer s family.
With his collection and artworks collecting
dust at his home, Bisnath, a director at the
National Academy for Performing Arts,
South Campus, is hoping to persuade the
board to allocate a space for exhibitors.
Bisnath said, "The corporation took down
the sign and called me to collect all my arti-
facts and cabinets from the museum. I was
told that council had a meeting and that
they had other plans for the place. I went
and they provided a truck for me to take
home my artifacts. This happened soon
after the elections.
"But when one door closes, many others
open. My appointment was approved by
the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism,
through Cabinet, to be on the board of
National Academy for the Performing Arts
South. The board agreed that soon after
Carnival we would meet and we will have
our first meeting. When that time reaches,
one of the things I want to raise is that an
area be given for the museum down there.
"After Carnival is done, the Carnival king
and queen costumes would go back to the
mas camps and would be broken down,
because there is no area to display it. I want
space to display those costumes at the build-
In addition, the 56-year-old Bisnath said
he has artifacts collected over the past 30
years that can also be displayed. These
include antique hair irons, clothes irons and
tools as well as his well-known woodcarv-
"The thing about it is that people like
Louis B Homer, Willi Chen, Torrance
Mohammed and others have been knocking
on every door to have a museum in San
Fernando until last year when a temporary
one was set up. It would have been tem-
porary until they fixed the old train station
down at King s Wharf," Bisnath said.
At last year s opening, Muradali presented
a dossier on the old railway station to curator
of the National Museum Lorraine Johnson
for consideration by the Ministry of National
Diversity and Social Integration. His hope
was that the heritage site would be restored
for use as the city s permanent museum.
No approval has been given to date, but
Bisnath is still hopeful that plans for a per-
manent museum were still on the cards.
Contacted for comment, Arts and Mul-
ticulturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas
said he was not aware that San Fernando
had a museum and would have to look into
Regrello: Better planning needed
Explaining the closure of the museum,
deputy mayor Junia Regrello said not much
thought was put into the temporary museum
as it was deemed unsafe for public use.
"Council recommended that it be used
as a disaster management centre. It was
recommended to be a museum by the for-
mer mayor but there are no artifacts there
now. It is totally inactive and it is not friendly
to visitors," Regrello said.
"Everything is on a hold right now.
Although King s Wharf has been identified
as a spot for it, the mayor has to articulate
his vision and in his vision, we will incorporate some
of the plans."
Among the problems at the old Public Transport
Service Corporation building outlined were that the
stairs were not suited for the elderly. Regrello said
there was a lack of parking and there were industrial
activities and storage for the corporation s materials
at the compound.
"I don t think much thought went into that process.
You have to get the materials first before you open
a museum. There are materials out there that you
have to source, have them tagged, identified, marked
and then you look at going forward. I don t think
that was done." he said.
San Fernando Hill a possible venue
San Fernando Hill is being look at for the con-
struction of a museum, said Regrello.
"King s Wharf is also good, but because of traffic
congestion and the aesthetics of the San Fernando
Hill, the hill is an ideal spot for a museum. You can
have a food court and souvenir shop there because
it is really designed for tourism. It can further be
developed as opposed to the wharf. I think the wharf
is tremendous if they re going to develop the water-
front but with the type of plans out there, we should
really use the wharf for other things," he said.
San Fernando museum shuts its doors
FLASHBACK: San Fernando Arts Council members James Lee Wah, left, and Walid Baksh at the opening of the San Fernando Museum with
Ansonia Torres, granddaughter of the late historian and journalist Louis B Homer, on October 4, last year. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
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