Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Guyanese Heritage Museum

The Guyana Heritage Museum located at, 17 Meten-meer- zorg West Coast Demerara. Is privately own and control by Mr. Gray Serrao, however Mr. Serrao likes to say that the museum belongs to Guyana. The Museum was opened ten years ago, in November 1999. Mr. Serrao said that the museum is Guyanese way of saying thank you to the past.
He began collecting items which represent different parts of the Guyanese heritage. In the museum, there is an Amerindian corner. The photograph shows a collection of utensils made out of iron which were used during the last century. These include an ice shaver and a coal iron. To the far right of the museum, there are three legged iron pot which could be used over an open fire.

Display of Amerindians Craft items found in the Museum.

Utensils made from iron that was used frequently during the last century.

The Museum also contains more than nine hundred books that have some degree of association with Guyana’s culture, politics, economy or heritage. Among such books you can fine, books that were written by persons who were born in Guyana. Authors include world recognized writers such as Edgar Mittleholzer, E.R Braithwaite, Pauline Melville, Grace Nichols and Dr. Walter Roth and Dr. Cheddie Jagan.

Some of the rare collection of books found at the museum.
The museum also contains a wide variety of notes and coins that were used in Guyana. There you will find the half crown, four piece coin, three pence and four pence, coins, stamps and notes that goes as far back as 1742, and stamps as far as the 1860s.

Notes and coins found in the museum.

Also found are commemorative coins, the ones in this picture are the silver token from the colonies of Essequibo and Demerara dated 1813, and the Cuffy Silver Dollar commemorating Guyana’s Republican Status in 1970.

Also one can see a variety of bottles that relates to the Guyanese cultural such as the soft drink bottle, puma bottle, Scottish bottles also called a fambo bottle and the pummel seal bottle which is a Dutch machine bottle and is also declare the world’s smallest bottle.

National Library

The National Library is situated at 76-77 Main and Church street Georgetown. It was originally known as the Public free library and was opened on September 9th, 1909. Mr. Andrew Carnegie, a wealthy American provided $33,000 for the construction of the building. Mr. Leonard Percival Hodge, Assistant director of Public Works was its architect. The erection of the library was the result of the work of the committee founded in December 1907.
I n 1912 the building received a new roof of ‘Old Dutch slates’ to eliminate leaking. In 1935 the building was renovated and upper floors were added to the two wings. This addition was funded by another grant from the Carnegie Corporation of $25,000. From 1935 to 1951 the building held some of the museum exhibits until the modern museum building was opened in 1951.
The architecture reveals the influence of Victorian and Georgian styles. It has a close-boarded ceiling, a bi-furcated timber staircase, and vertically pivoted windows. There is an iron grill wok separating the lobby from the adult lending section and dividing the department on the first floor.
The National Library serves to satisfy both nationally and internationally, the information and recreational needs of the library’s users through the collection, organization and dissemination and preservation of information in printed and other formats.
Services provided by the National library are :
Photocopying- In which people can copy the original material and use them at their own leisure time.
Gramophone Record Library- The library has a collection of gramophone records in various categories such as Caribbean music, orchestral, spoken words, and popular music and so on. Library members are eligible to become a member of the gramophones recorded library at a stated fee.
Book Mobile Service- This provides a critical service to citizens in outlying districts where no other library service are located.
Lending and Reference- Patrons are allowed to borrow certain books to read at their w on leisure while other books are provided for use only within the library.
Reading and Advisory- Personalize assistance is provided by Librarian staff to aid patrons in locating relevant reading and research materials.
Inter Library Loans- This is an arrangement with other libraries to borrow books for the use of patrons if the required books are not available at a particular library.
Prison Service- The National Library tries to promote literacy to everyone even those who are incarcerated, therefore books are taken periodically for lending purpose.
Request Service- Patrons are allowed to place reservations on library materials may not be available at the time when they are needed.

Exhibitions are put on to showcase or to b ring to patrons attention books are available on particular subjects or by particular author. Exhibitions are also put on to commemorate different events.
Activities- Summer extension activity provides recreational for students who are on vacation during the summer. These activities take the form of Spanish workshop, ma king of toys, reading competition etc. The activities are aimed at maintaining a vibrant membership and attracting new members to the library.
Story hours- they are organize specially on Saturday for children of the Juvenile department as an additional activity of reading aloud and to highlight books in the collection that the children can read on their own.
Video shows- theses are mainly educational shows which are staged for the library patrons.
Class visits- this is to bring to student attention the role of the library and it benefits and to encourage them to become members of the library.
National library collections includes
General reference collection- a collection of books used, only within the library for research purpose, on various disciplines and subject.
Collection – this collection comprises of all the publication received by the library as legal deposit copies
Toy collection
The juvenile department of the library has a small collection of educational toys which can be accessed for use in the library.
Quick reference collection
A collection of encyclopedia which contain dictionaries, yearbooks, handbooks etc. which is consulted mainly to satisfy simple, factual enquiries.
Caribbean collection
The library has extensive collection materials written by Caribbean authors and about the Caribbean for both reference and lending purpose
Bound newspapers collection
A collection of local and select Caribbean’s newspaper
Adrian collection
A set of books on horticulture donated to the national library by the late Adrian Thompson.
Maps collection
Mostly maps of Guyana showing various features of the land.
Seymour collection
Guyanese author and port donated a collection of Caribbean works including publications.
Newspaper clippings collection
Guyana society collection
This collection contains many rare and important historical works on Guyana and the West Indies.
Photographs and illustrations collection,
Which contain photographs of important historical building, personalities, events, flora and fauna, natural lands cape and works of art.

Parliament Building

Public buildings also known as Parliament building was established in 1837. It was designed by Architect Joseph Hadfield and was handed over to the British Colonial legislature on the 5th August, 1934. The Parliament Buildings is where the National Assembly of Parliament in Guyana and its committees meet. It is one of the buildings in Guyana with the finest architecture. The building is housed in the heart of Georgetown and neighbours the Stabroek market and the Demerara River. The building have the features of … dome, two ..a … and library.
The Parliament library was established in 1998 prior to the building opening in 1834 with help from the National Democratic Institute. This is an international organization that receives funding from USAID. The … having a library at Parliament came from the former clerk of the National assembly, Frank Narine.
The aim of the Library covers the fields of interest that provide lawmakers with the necessary materials they may need to perform their duties in parliament. When asked what is so interesting about Parliament’s library, the response was, “this unique library house documents that cannot be found anywhere else…” documents such as the vebatum record which are debts that take place in the National assembly.

African Heritage Museum

The Museum of African Art and Ethnology was founded with interesting pieces bought by the Government in 1985. Then was declared opened to the public on July 29, 1994.They are under the management of the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports. Some of the persons that have made significant donations to the Museum are Mr. Hubert H. Nicholson, Mrs. Desiree malik and Dr. William Seligman through UNESCO whom is the Curator of African and Deane Art, Brooklyn Museum in 1992.
Since then, other donations have been made from persons within the local community. Such as Art and Craft which have been done by local artists within Guyana and pieces from the Burrows school of Art.
In 2001, the Museum of African Art and ethnology has changed its name to the Museum of African Heritage. This was done so that they can attract a wider audience and address African influence in Guyana. This allows the museum to explore research and solicit donations from the community so that they can be able to share their knowledge and be able to provide programs that will educate visitors on African heritage and origins of their lifestyles in Guyana.
At the Museum the collection consists of African art (West Africa) from wooden mask to the carved door of secret societies. The artifacts that are housed in the museum are some objects that can be found in West Africa. This helps us to understand the meaning and reasons behind African art and tradition. There are also collections of brass weights (use for gold dust0, drums, musical instruments, games and clothing. Some recent donations include a wooden replica of the 1763 monument.
In visiting the museum one will begin to learn about what styles and traditions afro-guyanese brought when they came.

John Campbell Police Museum

John Campbell Police Museum

Located in the compound of the Guyana Police Headquarters, John Campbell Museum was established in recognition of the work of John Campbell a former Assistance Commissioner of Police, the museum that was instrumental in re-organizing in 1975 was named after him. Who was John Campbell?
John Campbell had served 37 years in the Guyana Police Force. Dedicating one’s entire working career to a particular service is in itself worthy of commendation, more so when one gives 42 years of unstunted service for the maintaining of law and order in one’s country.
Such an outstanding worker was retired Assistant Commissioner and former editor of the copper and Police Magazine. John Campbell could be described s a man of many pats having not only been a rounded police officer who served in several Divisions and Branches, but also was a dramatist, Playwright, Poet, Musician and Writer.
John was born on 19th October, 1925. He attended Freeburg Anglican, lodge congregational and Kingston Methodist Primary Schools, Matthews High School and the Guyanese College of modern education. H was enlisted in the Guyana Police Force in 1943. During his service in the force, he was a bugler in the Police Corps of Drums. He serve as a detective form 1949-1970 including (10) ten years in the Special Branch, Campbell headed several Divisions and Branches in the force. He served as Research Planning and Publications Officer, Commandant Police Training School and Force Public Relations Officer, Tactical Services unit, ‘C’ and ‘E’ Divisions. He graduated from the University of Guyana with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in history. When he retired he was in charge of Public Relations in the force.
He came out of retirement in 1981 to head the Special Constabulary as Assistant Commissioner. During this period he edited the Police Copper and re-activated the drama groups of the force. He handed over the Mantle of the constabulary to Assistant commissioner R. King in 1985. John was noted for his versatility in several fields despite being a Police Officer. He was editor of the Police Magazine from 1968-1975 and also edited the copper during 1972-1975; he served as Chairman of the Police Association from 1965-1967, and of the indoor games section of the Police Sports Club; he was elected as President of the Mess Committee of inspectors’ and Sergeants’ Mess; He also served as Chairman of the Police Consumers Co-operative Society. In 1957 he won the university of the West Indies Award for writing the best Guyanese Play “ Come back to Melda” at the National Drama Festival ,in 1964, he copped second prize at the National Playwriting competition with the Play, “Dhanwattee”, third prize for Ghandi Memorial Art competition with the painting “Crossby Office”. His paintings still adorn the officer’s mess and special constabulary headquarters.
He also won first prize for composing the words of the Police Association Theme Song “Advance Together”, and second prize in the Christmas Annual Poetry competition 1981 with “Border Blues”.

John Campbell Police Museum History

In 1975 John Campbell was instrumental in re-organizing the police museum that was
In 1932 much credit has to be given to the few police officers whose vision it was to ensure that the history of the Police Force was preserved through the museum which was first housed at the Police Depot, now referred to as the tactical Services Unit (T.S.U). During the same year it was removed to the Criminal Investigation Department (C.I.D) where it remained until 1938.
However, in 1938 the collection was increasing at an unprecedented rate. The absence of trained personnel had an adverse effect on the development of the museum.
In 1948, after ten years in activity the museum was relocated at the Police Depot but, remained under the administrative control of the Criminal Investigation Department (C.I.D). Then in 1975, taking a critical look at the museum between 1948-1975 one got the impression that it was never a priority of the Force. Its success to some extent rested on the initiative of officers who were mindful of preserving the history of the Police Force throughout this unit. At this point the late John Campbell ho was at the time Research, Planning, and Publication Officer took the initiative of reorganising the museum. As a result of the long period of inactivity many of the artefacts were either damaged of suffered some degree of decay. In the circumstances, John Campbell had set himself the task of contracting Divisional Officers throughout the country with a view to replacing the depleted collection. Success to some degree attended his efforts.
That being the case, in 1989 the museum was now given a new lease on life. Senior Superintendent H. Greene, the new officer-in- charge of Research, Planning and Publication assumed responsibility for the museums rehabilitation programme. It was removed from the C.I.D. Headquarters to its present location, first floor, and Western end of the auditorium Felix Austin Police College. Consequent upon the museum being located at the college it fell under the administrative control of the commandant, Assistant Commissioner L. Gilkes. To coincide with the Force’s 150th anniversary celebrations the museum was opened to members of the public on July 24, 1989 five days a week.
In 1993, the vicissitudinary circumstances which have been associated with the Police Museum during its sixty odds years of existence show a profound determination on the part of those officers to put a premium of preservation of the history of the Police Force throughout this unit, the museum.
After twenty months of preparation Mrs. V. Campbell, wife of the late John Campbell, officially opened the John Campbell Police Museum on Thursday, October 14, 1993.
Some Artifacts At the Museum
The Police Force Crest
A cursory glance at the police force crest often referred to by ranks as the badge, has its roots firmly set in medieval times. Five components woven together form this remarkable heritable, the ‘Guyana Police Force Crest’.
Mounted on the of this historic crest is the symbolic Amerindian Headdress or Cacique Crown which was given preference to the British Crown at the instance of Guyana’s independence status. It now holds a place of distinction among the crowns worn by the Greeks, the Romans and the British.

Origin of the Crown
In the quest for knowledge of things historical, cultural or heritable our approach is usually one of expectancy; but at times success does not always attend our efforts, thus leaving us drained as it were. This is the case of the origin of the Crown. Nothing definitive, but, the French gives us a clue in the word couronne.
The scroll- The circle on the crest on which is marked Guyana Police represents the scroll which was used during Roman times. Paper was unknown then but the skin of sheep, goat’s e.t.c, was prepared as parchment and used as writing material.
The jaguar-Felis onca is the largest member of the cat family in Guyana and is considered among the great cats of the world, the third biggest after the tiger and the lion. Large specimens attain a length of just over ten feet from tip to tip. They are solitary and secretive, elusive in ways that suggest great intelligence. They are strong and appear formidable.
Stalk of Sugar cane- Guyana’s oldest agricultural crop. Around 1658 Dutch Jews settled on the Pomeroon River and by 1660 the Village of new Middleburg had become the centre of a flourishing settlement due to the cultivation of Sugar Cane. In the absence of mechanical means of crushing cane, wooden rollers were employed. The first mill to be operated by horses was erected in 1664 by Jan Doensen in Essequibo.

SPIKED HELMET – used by the police force in times past.

RIOT HELMET-used by the Guyana Police force in times past

COMPRESSOR- used to compress marijuana for the purpose of concealment.

The Walter Roth Museum of anthropology

Founded in 1974 from the collection of the Guyanese archaeologist, Dr. Dennis Williams, the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology and Art History (as it was originally called) was the first Museum of anthropology in the English speaking Caribbean. It was planned to site the Museum in the town of Bartica, however this was changed at the last moment because of the fuel crisis of 1974, which caused the original funds allocated to be withdrawn. In 1980 the Museum, now renamed the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, was moved to its present location, 61 Main street, North Cummingsburg, Georgetown (next to State House the official residence of the President of Guyana.) Following this move, the collections of Sir Everand Im Thurn, Dr. Walter Roth and Mr. John J. Quelch were transferred here from the National Museum. A typological study from the collections of Dr. Betty J. Meggers and the late D. Clifford Evans of the Smithsonian institution was later donated and in 1991, Guyanese Cultural Anthropologist, Dr. George P. Mentore, donated an ethnographic collection of the Wai-Wai of southern Guyana. The Museum’s also include excavated artifacts from all ten administrative regions of Guyana as well several other small ethnographic and archaeological collections. Including donations of artifacts from the late President Desmond Hoyte and the late President Mrs. Janet Jagan.
It is generally believed that John Sharps (1845-1913) was the architect of the building, which was constructed before 1890. Duncan McRae Hutson, a Guyanese barrister-of-law and legistalor bought it in 1891. When Mr. McRae Hutson wife’s passed away in 1942, he sold the building to the Government of British Guiana. The government used it to house the Teachers Training College and later, the Attorney General Chambers. In 1976, the National Trust of Guyana gazetted the building as a national historic monument and in 1978, the building was acquired by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Social Development. It was then decided that the Department of Culture of the Ministry of Education to be used as a Museum. The Walter Roth Museum was officially opened to the public in 1982.
This Museum is named in honour of Walter Edmund Roth(1861-1933). Dr. Roth was a noted anthropologist, administrator and surgeon who was educated in England. After qualifying as a surgeon at St. Thomas Hospital, London, he followed his two elder brothers to Australia. There he held a succession of positions ranging from teacher to surgeon. But his later work on Australian ethnology made him popular. After serving successfully for several years as an Anthropologist and Protector of the Aborigines, he eventually moved to British Guiana in 1907 where he accepted an appointment as Government Medical Officer, Stipendiary Magistrate and Deputy-Protector of Indians in the Pomeroon district. In 1920 he was appointed commissioner of the Rupununi. After many years of service in the interior of British Guiana, he finally retired in 1928 to become Curator of the Museum of the Royal Agricultural Commercial Society (now renamed the Guyana National Museum) and Government Archivist. Due to his strong interest in anthropology, his work resulted in two major monographs of the arts, crafts and customs of the Guiana Indians being published in 1924 and 1929 by the Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington. Walter Roth died in the capital Georgetown in 1933.
The first director of the Walter Roth Museum was Dr. Dennis Williams who served from its founding in 1974 up to his death in 1998. Dr. Williams originally an artist and writer has been exposed to archaeology in the Sudan. This interest was rekindled when he returned to Guyana in 1968 to live in the Mazaruni district. He was eventually able to pursue his interest full-time when he was appointed Director of the newly created Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology and Art History in 1974. Dr. Williams primary interest was in archaeology but he made a major contribution to world archaeology in his study of petroglyphs and pictographs. His skill as a writer served him well with his scientific papers and articles, as well as his numerous works of fiction. In recognition in all his achievements , he received several national awards and Honorary Doctorate from the University of the West Indies in 1989.
Over the years the Walter Roth Museum has been engaged in numerous research programmes. Of these the most important were the archaeological research conducted by dr. Williams. His work yielded valuable information on the history , pre-history, and past and present cultures of the Amerindians. The archaeological surveys continue at the Walter Roth Museum with Dr. Mark Plew of Boise State University, Idaho.
Also the Museum in-house an outreach programme, Junior Archaeology. In this programme children become members of Junior Archaeology and visit the Museum where they are instructed in various aspects of archaeology, cultural anthropology and anthropological linguistics. Museum staff regularly correspond with children across Guyana and the Caribbean. Members receive publications and newsletters specifically overseas or local members in the regions of Guyana.
The Museum also has an active publishing programme. It’s ‘annual Journal of Archaeology and Anthropology, which is overseen by a scientific advisory board, was first published in 1978. Since that time, apart from journals, several other publications and leaflets, dealing with exhibitions, ethnography, prehistory, and the junior Archaeology programme, have also been published.
Due to the deterioration of the main structure, the Walter Roth Museum was closed to the public in 1996. the exhibits were then stored at the National Anthropological Archives, which was located behind the Museum. All Museum work, including a small display, was then conducted from what was the Museum Library and Research Centre.
After several months, rehabilitation work was started. This work ground to a halt soon afterwards and was not resumed until the year 2000 when the Walter Roth Museum came under the newly formed Ministry of Culture, youth and Sport. Work on the main building was completed in 2002. The Walter Roth Museum was officially reopened to the public on 25th September 2003.
Some artifacts that can be found at the Walter Roth Museum are:
Basketry- Strainers and Sifters
Which come in several varieties are primarily used to sift lumps of cassava or flour. The flour is then collected in a bowl, tray, canoe, or other container before it is used for cooking. Sifters which have the secondary function as a strainer for several of the casav drinks made by the Amerindians. A special type of strainer with larger holes is used to sift lums from farine. Other sifters are cassava sifter and farine sifter.

Parishara Dance
The head band worn during the parishara dance is made from mukuru and feathers. The woman’s armbands used during the parishara dance is made from kraua and macaw and powis feathers. One band also displays a small gourd. Generally this dance is performed by the Makushi peoples.

Fish trap and Arrow and Bows

These are all hunting and fishing technology that has been introduced by the Amerindians. The fish trap varies in size and is designed to catch different sizes of fishes.

Amerindian Burial beliefs, practices and mortuary Ritual
Amerindian pottery found at burial sites often displays evidence of mortuary practice and belief in a spirit world. As evidence of this, burial urns were decorated by painting symbolic patterns and figures on them. At other times ceremonial figures of animals related to the shaman and the spirit world were attached to the urn. These figures included the frog, monkey, king vulture, and tortoise. Of these figures birds are associated with flight and the sky while animal figures are associated with either shaman or the under world.

Burial Urns

Amerindians are known to have used several different types of burial urns for secondary burial purposes. These include;
Large open mouth urns which could hold large bones like skulls, arm bones, leg bones etc.
Small globular narrow mouth urns with covers which were used to hold cremated remains.
Small open or narrow mouth urns and shallow bowls which were used to hold small bones and teeth. Sometimes small urns were placed inside the large open mouth urns.

Fish trap petroglyph- found in the Demerara river

Enumerative petroglyph- found in the Demerara River

The cassava squeezer or matapi which is its true carib name is found throughout the Guianas and far westward as the upper Rio Negro. It was known in Suriname as the Carib snake. An interesting legend saw that the first Arawak man who observed the motion of a snake while swallowing its prey and the directions of the lines upon its back formed the matapi expressing the poisonous juice of the cassava (manioc) the matapi consist of a head, mouth, body and an ankle. The matapi can be made from itiri or mukru. A miniature form of matapi is used for extracting the oil from the crabwood (carapa) nut and the kokeret ( maxillama) seed.

Stone Chip Cassava Grater
The making of a cassava grater can be divide into four parts : The preparation of the board by men, the making of the stone, chips by women, their fixation into it by men and women, in the final touches by men, To get the board a man will kill a tree (one of the simarukas) cut off a block 2 or 3 feet long from the outside part and square it down to a piece from 15 to 20 inches wide and about 1 inch thick making the front and the back slightly concave and convex. Afterwards a diagram is drawn infront of the board with a finger dipped in a vegetable dye. A particular type of stone (aporphyry) is used which only comes outer crop that runs across the bottom of the Essequibo River and that can only be obtained in the dry season. After the stone into chips they are inserted in a diagonal pattern into holes drilled into the board with a pointed bone.

National Museum

The National Museum an important national institution in Guyana is located on North Road Company path in the capital city of Georgetown. The National Museum is also called the Guyana Museum was established in 1853 by the Royal Agricultural and commercial society.
In 1863 marked a new chapter in the development of museum in Guyana because it was successful in opening of its new building which was rebuilt by the Royal Agricultural and Commercial society.
Under the society the museum was opened to the public in 1870 for two days a week after the Government offered ^,-1,800 annually towards the institutions maintenance. There was no permanent curator of the museum in the early years; rather these services were achieved through Dr. H. Whitlock a medical officer of health, who readily volunteered his skills. It was through him that museum was able to obtain it first animal exhibits. In 1876 Dr. Whitlock died and his services were for a short period executed by Mr. Fresson. The members of the society soon realized the need for the service of a pait curator, which was appointed to Sir Edward Fim Thurn from 1877-1879 after his two years service he returned to take charge of the Museum once again which was short lived. He was succeeded by Mr. E. A. Glaisher in March 1883. Under his helm the collection of the museum was enhanced with the presentation of mineralogical and genealogical exhibits by Mr.Harrington Brown. In 1885 the museum progress was temporarily halted by the death of Glaisher. Mr. Fresson acted as Curator until the appointment of Mr. John J. Quelch who under took the task of expanding the museum activities. After Quelch resigned Mr. Evans was temporarily assigned which did not last long and Mr. James Rodway undertook the task of curator and the exhibits were greatly enhanced on botany which was Rodway interest. In 1925 Rodway resigned after many years of service. He was then succeeded by the Dr. Walter E. Roth who placed great emphasis on anthropological exhibits relating to the indigenous population of Guyana.

In 1934 Governor Sir Edward Denham successfully lobbied the Carnegie co-operation to provide a grant of $25,000 for the purposes of constructing a second floor to the national library for the purpose of exhibiting the museum’s collections which were displayed in overcrowded galleries. In addition to this a grant of 2400 was secured in 1935 for the salary of curator and the purchase of cases to display exhibits. In this same year the society relinquished control of the museum to the government. The institution was then renamed the British Guiana Committee and placed under the management of the Georgetown Public free library committee. The museum was separated into two buildings. The Natural History section in the current museum and the economic science and anthropological and historic section of the museum were opened to the public. On 31st January 1938 the Natural History section was opened to the public.

Vincent Roth, who accepted the post part time, extended the museum activities to include personally guided tour to visitors and preparations were made to design and complete the school loan exhibitions.

On 23rd February 1945 there was an explosion at Bookers drug stores which affected the entire Royal Agricultural and commercial society and sixteen other building was burnt to the ground.

In 1946 the legislative council with government’s approval adopted the proposal for provision of $50,000 for the rebuilding of the museum. An annual grant of $2,500-3,000 was released over a number of years for this purpose. Mr.Ram Singh and his fellow workers rebuilt the museum natural history collection. So great was the volume of the new collection that the premises proof to be too small. In the circumstances an alternative venue was sought. A lease of two-thirds of Cummingsburg market where the Government flats are now located was then used as the general store room for many years.

In February 1946, permission was granted and over the course of the next three months the premises was transformed to house an exhibit the natural history collection. The temporary museum was formerly opened by the officer administrating the government Mr. W.L Heape on July 14, 1949. On May 28- July 1951, with great fanfare the present building after being dedicated by His Grace the Arch Bishop of the West Indies was declared opened.

The National Museum is 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 ranging from the print press of Black Magenta to the Rolls Royce once used by the late President Forbes Burnham. 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 everyday.

Some of the artifacts that can be found in the National Museum are:

Social Section

  • A model of the Government Fire boat- Lady Woolley
  • Variety of Dolls – Indian dolls, Hindu Guyanese doll
  • Cars from the twentieth century
  • A model of gold and diamond mining

Natural Section

  • Giant anteater
  • Model of fruits and vegetables

Economic and Mineralogy (Industrial)

  • Collection of different types of minerals

There are lots more artifacts that can be found.

Walter Rodney Archives

Walter Rodney Archives which is known as the National Archives in Guyana holds a vast quantity of historical data valuable to the overall National Development thrust of the country. Their main purpose is to acquire and preserve all public records that are of value for administrative purposes and historical research. Research reveals that the archival collection dates back to the period of Dutch occupation when documents were stored in the dome of Parliament Buildings. It also reveals that in 1982, the National Archives of Guyana Act was passed, thereby establishing the National Archives as a department. Under the National Archives Act, records include any manuscript, newspaper, picture, painting, document, register, printed material, map, plan, drawing, photograph, negative and positive pictures; recorded information in any medium. This act provides for a National Archives Advisory committee which is appointed by the Minister of Culture Youth and Sport. Their main function is to advise the Minister on matters of general archival policy and to review the work and progress of the department.

The holdings of the National archives is fairly extensive with approximately 700 meters of textual material, 10,000 printed materials and 55 meters of newspapers (32 titles). The total holdings approximately 5% date from the 18th century, 55% from the 19th century, 40% from the 20th century. The Dutch section is the oldest group.

The collection include:

Gazettes- The Governing authorities of British, later Guyana, published these gazettes, such contain official acts and notices, by laws, circular etc, and cover a wide variety of business of the colony.

Immigration documents, certificates, Registers, Books- Recorded the official government business related to indentureship of Indian immigrants to Guyana

Policy and combine court proceedings- records of minutes of official meetings accompanied by papers, petitions, draft bills.

Key Functions of the Archive

Appraisal - this is an on going process that may done through various stages of the life cycle of a document although it is of particular relevance to evaluate the historical and informative importance of the record before entering it into the national archives fond.

Accession - after a document is identified as valuable it must be transferred to the custody of the National Archives.

Processing – includes arrangement and description. The document need to be arranged within their original fond in the manner in which they were created and described accordingly for their posterior recuperation.

Preservation – is divided into two main activities: conservation and restoration. This function understands the necessity of maintaining the merit of the original physical form in which the document was created and restoring it to that condition should it be necessary.

Dissemination – a result of the services offered by the archives in relation to the use of the information contained in archival document. This function may be achieved by such activities as reference services on matters pertaining to the archives

The Walter Rodney Archives can be reached at Homestretch Avenue D’urban Park, Georgetown. It opens at 8:30am and closes at 4:15pm from Mondays to Thursday, and on Fridays it opens at 8:30 am and closes at 3:15pm.