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Jan 27, 1998

Ambergris Museum set to open

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Even though the Government of Belize canceled its predecessor’s plans to build a national museum in Belmopan, a number of smaller museum projects have popped up in Belize City and elsewhere. Over the weekend the latest effort was unveiled on the island of Ambergris Caye. Patrick Jones was on hand for a preview.

While most visitors to La Isla Bonita, were busy soaking up the sun, sand and sea in the summer of 1994 a group of far sighted San Pedranos were coming up with a new idea …

Lliani Lopez-Paz, Founder, Ambergris Museum

“San Pedro needs a Museum.”

And like a hot piece of gossip, the idea began to spread. Before long, an impressive collection of historical documents, old photographs, bottles and artifacts – some of them unearthed right on the island – were assembled. Most of the items are on loan from families of the caye’s earliest settlers.

Patrick Jones

“For the people of this island town, the old saying “A man without a past has no future is more than just a catch-phrase”

Lliani Lopez-Paz

“That’s the whole idea of museums, they are there to give you a better footing of where you are by being able to see where you come from and know which path you want to choose for the future.”

While the journey from the drawing board wasn’t an easy one for the project, the way ahead seems to be just as difficult. According to Lliani, they are a now awaiting funding to install interactive displays for use by school children.

Lliani Lopez-Paz

“Oh Patrick, challenges were many. Its never been done before. None of us have any kind of Museum background.”

Patrick Jones

“But they must be doing something right … as most people who got a sneak peak at it were quite impressed with what’s been done so far. The Museum pieces are displayed in order of chronology and take the visitor through a time warp … from Ambergris Caye then, to Ambergris Caye today.”

Lliani Lopez-Paz

“We start with the days of the Maya settlers, we were lucky enough to have artifacts brought back home courtesy of the government of Belize from the collection and from the days of the Mayas we then move into the days the Mestizo community was founded and the Guerra de Castas is sort of the bridge between those two exhibits but it’s the story of the town.”

A story which the founders of the Museum are hoping will be told, not only to the locals, but to visitors as well.

Lliani Lopez-Paz

“Its primarily for the people of San Pedro … the community has been impacted heavily. This is a local based initiative, its for the people of San Pedro, but secondarily, yes, the visitors to the island will have a chance to come through and know more and get a better grasp of the culture and where this little community has come.”

According to one archaeologist who is no stranger to the island, some of the pieces that are going to adorn the displays in the Museum will really tell a story.

Elizabeth Graham, Archaeologist

“Most of the complete pieces we have date from about the eleventh century; tenth, eleventh, twelfth century, from that point of view they are important because they show that he Maya collapse didn’t really affect the Caye and that’s one of the really interesting things about the archaeology here.”

“You have no idea how happy I am to see this material on display, because that’s where it should be and I think this will be a spring board now, because people will be able to see the information, will be able to launch educational programs for the students, involve them maybe in some of the excavations, because to see it is to believe it and now we have a place that they can see all this material.”

Lliani Lopez-Paz

“I’m very pleased with the way the Museum is today … last night’s event was like a real strong berthing-pain, so they can know, and we all know that this child is about to be born.”

And if all goes as planned, the delivery will take place around March fifteenth, when the Museum officially opens its doors to the public. Patrick Jones, for News Five.

The Ambergris Museum is located on Pescador Drive in the center of San Pedro Town.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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