Museum equipped to handle hurricanes


An artifact that has been in use for 267 years helped the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda to maintain its protection against any damage that could have been caused by Hurricane Irma.

Michele Henry, museum curator, said four cast iron safes, in use since 1750 when the museum was the St. John’s Courthouse, are what keep the museum’s property safe like a fortress.

Henry explained that the safes are comparable in size to a typical clothes closet and have been used as dustproof and waterproof storage. During many storms, they hold and protect valuable Amerindian clay pots and maps.

In assessing the “minimal damage” caused by the hurricane, Henry said there were a few damaged pipes but minimal flooding.

An exhibit of canoes from the Arawaks and tombstones from slaves are always elevated so minor flooding would not penetrate the wooden treasures.

As a guide to protect its holdings, Henry uses an extensive checklist issued by the International Council of Museums so that, in the event of a natural disaster, the museum is prepared.

Securing maps, archival papers and saving all library content on a database is the most proactive steps she takes. The process of saving is made easy, she said, with special data sticks that are stored in three other locations outside of the museum.

The database, which is a record of Antigua and Barbuda’s history, is updated “every day“ so that there are countless backups if a disaster were to strike

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