Museums in Haiti

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Museums in Haiti current assessments and interpretations
Marques da Silva, Natália
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (78 p.)

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Master's ( M.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Art and Art History
Committee Chair:
Hebblethwaite, Benjamin
Committee Members:
Thurner, Mark W
Willumson, Glenn G
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Subjects / Keywords:
Art exhibitions ( jstor )
Art museums ( jstor )
Cultural institutions ( jstor )
Cultural preservation ( jstor )
Earthquakes ( jstor )
Latin American culture ( jstor )
Muses ( jstor )
Museums ( jstor )
Voodoo ( jstor )
Waterfalls ( jstor )
Art and Art History -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
ayiti -- caribbean -- haiti -- museology -- museum
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
Museology thesis, M.A.


Museums in Haiti have generally been overlooked by scholars and members of the public due to a wide range of misconceptions regarding the country’s precarious condition during certain periods of its history. At times, these notions have led to inaccurate assertions that ‘Haiti has no museums’ as well as comparisons between its museums and the museums of other nations in a manner that negatively portrays the former. In reality, however, the resilience and perseverance of the Haitian people has allowed for the continuous conservation of their tangible and intangible heritage despite times of social, political, economic, environmental difficulty. As this thesis will demonstrate through field work as well as a contextualized review of the literature and elements of Haitian history, Haitian museums are vibrant,socially important spaces where identity construction, heritage interpretation,public education, and the preservation and dissemination of cultural traditions are able to take place. ( en )
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Includes vita.
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Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
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This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2012.
Adviser: Hebblethwaite, Benjamin.
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by Natália Marques da Silva.

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Copyright Marques da Silva, Natália. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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2 2012 Natlia Marques da Silva


3 Para meus pais, Carlos e Lucia


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS F irst and foremost I would like to thank my thesis chair, Dr. Ben jamin Hebblethwai te, and the members of my committee, Dr. Glenn Willumson and Dr. Mark Thurner for their continuous feedback and support throughout this process. I extend my gratitude to Dr. David Geggus and Dr. Robin Poynor, whose seminars also informed my research In a ddition I thank Erin Zavitz Tess K ulstad and Heather Barrett for helping me prepare for fieldwork; a nd those who he lped me during it : Nina Hein and Edrice Fleurimond K enrick D emesvar ; the m anbo at Nan Souvenans Jean Baptiste Jean Luis, Kjersti G ausvik Tate W atkins and Nathan C anney In addition I thank the many other museum professionals and museum supporters without whom an accurate portrayal of Haitian museums would have been impossible to achieve: Mireille F ombrun, Olsen Jean Julien, Dr. Rachelle Charlier Doucet Dr. Rodrigue Thomas, Georges Nader Jr., Erol Josu, Michelet Divers, Enoch Trouillot Luckner Candio, Gerald Alexis Claudine Corbanese, a n d Charite Joseph. Lastly I would like to thank my colleagues in the University of Florida Museology Program ; Patrick Grigsby and Laura Robertson for their administrative support ; my friends and family members for their kind ness and patience ; and my wonderful and irreplaceable parents, Lucia Helena and Jos Carlos da Silva, for letting their dau ghter venture out in the streets of Ayiti ak zanmi m Msi anpil anpil!


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 7 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 10 2 HISTORICAL CONTEXT ................................ ................................ ........................ 14 3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK ................................ ................................ .............. 24 Readings of Museums ................................ ................................ ............................ 24 The State and National Identity ................................ ................................ ............... 29 The Conditional Existence of Museums ................................ ................................ .. 33 4 CURRENT MUSEUMS ................................ ................................ ........................... 40 Pierre ................................ .......................... 40 ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 41 Muse du Panthon National Hatien (MUPANAH) ................................ ................ 42 ................................ ................................ ............... 43 Muse Ogier Fombrun ................................ ................................ ............................ 45 Muse du Peuple de Fermathe ................................ ................................ ............... 47 Muse de Guahaba ................................ ................................ ................................ 48 M use Georges Liautaud ................................ ................................ ........................ 49 Parc Historique de la Canne Sucre ................................ ................................ ...... 50 Sans Souci Palace and the Citadelle Laferrire ................................ ..................... 50 The Holy Trinity Cathedral ................................ ................................ ...................... 52 Vodou Temples ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 54 ................................ ................................ ............................... 56 5 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 67 APPENDIX A DIRECTORY OF MUSEUMS ................................ ................................ ................. 69 B PRICES, FUNDING AN D STAFF SIZE ................................ ................................ .. 70 C GENERAL CONDITION REPORT ................................ ................................ .......... 71


6 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 72 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 78


7 LIST OF TABLES Table page B 1 List of entrance fees, funding, and staff size. ................................ ..................... 70 C 1 Condition of buildings and collections. ................................ ................................ 71


8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3 1 MUPANAH ( Rooftop May of 2012 ) ................................ ................................ .... 39 3 2 MUPANAH ( Rooftop October of 2012 ) ................................ .............................. 39 4 1 Muse d'Art Hatien. ................................ ................................ ........................... 59 4 2 Muse d'A r t Nader P ermanent C ollection. ................................ .......................... 60 4 3 ................................ ............................. 61 4 4 Muse Ogier Fombrun. ................................ ................................ ...................... 62 4 5 Muse du Peuple de Fermathe (Display) ................................ .......................... 63 4 6 Muse de Guahaba (Display) ................................ ................................ ............ 64 4 7 Muse Georges Liautaud. ................................ ................................ .................. 65 4 8 Entrance of Saut d'Eau. ................................ ................................ ...................... 66


9 Abstract o f Thesis Prese nted to t he Gra duate School of The University o f Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for t he Degree of Master of Arts MUSEUMS IN HAITI: CURRENT ASSESSMENTS AND INTERPR ETATIONS By Natlia Marques da Silva December 2012 Chair: Ben jamin Hebblethwaite Major: Museology Museums in Haiti have generally been overlooked by scholars and members of the public ious condition during certain periods of its history. At times, these notions have led to museums and the museums of other nations in a manner that negatively portrays the former. In reality, however, the resilience and perseverance of the Haitian people has allowed for the continuous conservation of their tangible and intangible heritage despite times of social, political, economic, environmental difficulty. As this thesis will demonstrate through field work as well as a contextualized review of the literature and elements of Haitian history Haitian museums are vibrant, socially important spaces where identity construction, heritage interpretation, public education, and th e preservation and dissemination of cultural traditions are able to take place.


10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION T he environment created by social, p olitical, and economic factors throughout istory has not always been conducive to the formation and devel opment of cultural institutions From unsupportive governments to unforgiving natural disasters, the country has faced its share of decaying museums and historical sites This can be illustrated by the violent destruction of the Independence Museum, a tem porary structure designed by the Haitian Government to celebrate the bicentennial of its independence in 2004 (Douglas & Przeau Stephenson, 2008 ) The museum and its priceless artifacts which were located where the former headquarters of the Haitian Arme d Forces once stood, were symbolic casualties that proceeded the of President Jean Bertrand Aristide The event itself which was broadcast nationally and internationally, and the that took place during that time per iod are part of a larger web of negative publicity outside of its borders Natural disasters also showed negative aspects of Haiti on mainstream media They include a string of 2008 tropical storms and hurricanes that floo ded part of northeast Haiti and the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that devastated the country Despite continuous effort s to project a more encompassing vision of Haiti by various interest groups many individuals still associate it with the images of pover ty, instability, destruction, and violence that have accompanied its presence in the news Given these circumstances, i t would not seem very surprising if Haiti did not have any public museums or museum like institutions. After all, even the most rudiment ary version s of museum s require some degree of stability and infrastructure. It is with this sentiment, as well as general misinformation, that many individuals have assert ed that


11 ike [insert well known U.S. or European implications. Given that many of the individuals responsible for the latter are members of the U.S. Haitian diaspora who have actually visited museums in Haiti views o f the Haitian state are not the only motivators for a vision of a museum less Haiti. Also e mbedded in th is statement is a comparativist view where standards from one society are inappropriately applied to another, and s ince museums are socially constructed structures w ith incongruous definitions perceptions of whether or not they exist are sometimes just as powerful if not reflective of reality. Included in this group are visitors, museum professionals, and scholars, all of whom have a different influence in the way museums are perceived in their respective societies And indeed, for every individual someone willing to testify to their existence To scholars, this meant an informal debate on the history of mus eums in Haiti, but for many of the museum employees I spoke to in Haiti the conversation was irrelevant. To them, something that walks talks, smells breathes and sleeps like a museum should be referred to as tions. And indeed, Haiti does have plenty of museum s in its repertoire From its pivotal role in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), its involvement in the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the research it s scholars ha v e provided on patrimony and intangible herita ge, the small Caribbean nation has not entirely been a dormant player in the museum world Comparisons between museums in Haiti with those in different regions, however, have led some scholars to believe that the influence of Western museums has caused a


12 disservice to the development of museums in Haiti. This idea can be supported by the manner in which previously mentioned statements by members of the diaspora compare Haitian and Western insti tutions at the expense of the former. The phrase that if museums like the MoMA did not exist, the museums that do exist in Haiti would be legitimized and the country wo uld be viewed as one that has museums. This disenfranchisement, however, is a product that cannot be solely blamed on arbitrary geographical notions, as it is rooted in interpretations of modernity and the misappropriat ion of industry standards across diff erent cultures In this sense, if all museums were compared to the size, breadth, and reach of museums like the MoMA or the Louvre, few institutions in any society would be left. Furthermore, as this thesis will argue, negative views of Western influence n ot only negate influences that are positive but also undermine the vast cosmopolitan world to which Haiti and its diaspora belong. My interest in the topic rose primarily out of this view of Haiti as a multidimensional place where so many cultural influen ces culminate into a cohesive identity. It is a society where the past and the present can often blur into one through the symbolic references, paralleled structures, and the nature of living history. In th is context, the thought that unlikely For instance, the number of religious and cultural practices that have been transmitted from generation to generation parallel what many museums seek to achieve in their communities. M y first research trip to Hait i, conducted over the course of six weeks between May and June of 2012, allowed me to gain firsthand knowledge of how this process works During the course of the trip, I visited ten museums and historical


13 sites, four sites of memory, two museums in the pl anning stages, and two other museums that have been temporarily closed since the earthquake. The visits included interviews with representatives when possible and ranged from religious leaders to museum employees and scholars My field work was based on vi siting present institutions and did not include archival research. For this reason, my review of past museums relies extensively on the works of Pierre Massoni (1955), Ute Stebich ( 1979 ), Jennifer Margaret Hamilton ( 1984 ), Gerald Alexis (1995), Rachelle Ch arlier Doucet (2001), and Marie Lucie Vendryes (2003). The combination of my work on current museums and the work of previous scholars that I build upon reveals a museological history that readily fits within the regional and demographic contexts in which Haiti belongs. As I argue, this notion is Western models or influences as challenges to the development of Haitian museums. Inadvertently, this thesis also illustrates the imp ortance of private groups in the continuous conservation of national patrimony as supplementary to the role of the government or lack thereof, especially during turbulent periods in


14 CHAPTER 2 HISTORICAL CONTEXT T he very first Haitian mus eum was initiated by a small group of like minded European elites in the city Cap Franois The group was formally organized in 1784 as inquiries, and by 1785, includ ed enough artifacts to merit museum like activities (McClellan III, 2000; Vendryes, 2003). This ambition to systematically collect, curate, and exhibit artifacts that could be used for research was in par with the 18 th century quest to understand the "basi c natural laws that formed a framework for the universit y Alexander, 2007, p. 5 6). In the 19 th century this quest led to the development of museums as we know them today, where access gradually amplified from collectors and their circles of friends to increasingly broader segments of the public. In Haiti, this began to shift course in the subsequent revolts and battles that led to its independence o n January, 1 st 1804. Following independence, the new governing powers in Haiti exhibited conflicting points of view, a split state, constant threats of invasion, civil unrest, and a burdened plan tation economy (Geggus, 1989). E ventually social life resumed as cities and infrastructure were rebuilt as were cultural institutions. The creation of the Acadmie Royale de Peinture took place in Cap Haiten in 1807, and ten years later, the literary mag among other examples ( Gizolme & Lescot, 2010 ). The entire course of the 19 th century, however, offers no known museums (Vendryes, 2003). Hamilton (1984) suggests that the political, cultural, and


15 economic isolati on of Haiti by Europe and North America could have impacted Haiti lack of developmen t in museology during that time, though it would not explain why other European influenced structures, such as a royal art academy, were implemented instead. Doucet (2001 ), herself does not provide an answer, but does question whether the lack of museums during this time had to do with a disregard for reinterpretations of the past and its preservation, greater priority on social services such as schools and hospitals rathe r than museums ; or the view of museums as temples that did not service ordinary people Another possibility could relate to the structure of society during that time. The small elite who would have had the time and resources to create a museum mi ght not have been interested in undertaking a public project of that magnitude. It would not be surprising if their alternative to museums were to own galleries and private collections, which Vendryes (2003) sees as one of the ways that heritage was preser ved during that time. The creation of formalized cultural institutions regained pace in 1904 with the have included the establishment of a museum in Gonaves (Vendryes 2003). Pierre Massoni (1955) writes that the museum was built in the form of a wooden palace and contained objects and paintings that depicted the history of the Haitian independence. I n 1939, fear of fire and excessive erosion of the wood prompted offic ials to demolish the building and transfer the collection to Port au Price ( Massoni, 1955, p. 154). Shortly before then in 1938, the Muse National Stnio Vincent is established Port au Prince by President Stnio Vincent, who was in power between 1930 an d 1941. Doucet (2011) suggests a correlation between timin with


16 the ending of the American occupation as a symbol of autonomy The museum housed a diverse collection that included pain tings, photographs, sculptures, and histor ical documents meant to celebrate the past and glori fy Haiti from a military perspective (Doucet, 2001). It the following decades, it slowly disintegrated until its collection was formally moved to the then newly created Muse du Panthon National Hatien (Doucet, 2001, Vendryes, 2003). 2003). The museum was primarily meant as a place of scholarship, in which cultural and archeological artifacts could be studied by students and members of the Bureau and used to stimulate learning among visitors (Doucet, 2001). The excite ment, however, wa s short lived as by 1946 Lescot was overthrown following a period of civil unrest ( Dubois 2012). In 1950 over ninety percent of the du Peuple Hatien, established the same year to celebrate the bicentennial of Port au Prince (Doucet, 2001). The collection was then returned by 1958, after the disintegration of the Muse du Peuple Hatien ( Doucet, 2001). It was nearly lost during a fire in 1960, and eventually neglected ack of funding and mismanagement (Doucet, 2001). Following the footsteps of self memorialization that President s Stnio Vincent and lie Lescot, President Paul Eugne Magloire also opened a museum during his time in power. The museum was established in Ca p Hatien and opened in 1955 as the Muse Paul Eugne Magloire (Doucet, 2001; Vendryes, 2003). Its creation was meant


17 perpetuate the memory of the great men of the nation objects such as historical documents, letters, mi litary gear, and uniforms (Doucet, 2001, p. 61). In 1957, a year after the presidential term of President Magloire ended, the museum was renamed after Antnor Firmin as the Muse Antnor Firmin du Cap (Doucet, 2001). The museum marked a momentary standstil l in the creation of public museums as President for life, Franois Duvalier sought no undertakings from 1957, the year he took power, to 1971, the year he died. It remained active until 1990 when it was destroyed by a fire (Doucet, 2001). known art museum was established by the Collge Saint Pierre, a pr ivate college in Port au Prince, which inaugurated its first art department as well as Pierre in the year 1962 (Utebich, 1979). The need for a nation al museum of art had been heavily advocated by Dewitt Peters, who Haitian art in Haiti (Ale xis, 2010). In 1950, the Episcopal Bishop of Haiti, Reverend Alfred Voegeli suggested the idea of annexing a museum to the already existed Collge Saint Pierre (Alexis, 1995). The museum would start out with the permanent had been accumulating over the years, oversee the murals of the Episcopal Church or the Holy Trinity Cathedral which were painted in the (Utebich, 1979). Dewitt Peters became cruci al to the formation of the museum, which after many bumps in the road, acquire d its own building on Champs de Marts in May of 1972 (Utebich, 1979). The museum increasingly took care of improving its images and facilities. By


18 1995 and with the help of its B electronic security system, international grants for conservation, climate control improvements, and building modifications; and a sustainable working budget composed of gift shop sales, donations, and reven ue from fundraising auctions (Boulos, 1995). In the late 1970s and early 1980 s the administration of the dictator Jean Claude Duvalier of cultural institutions perhaps as a political move to exhibit autonom y and control in a fledging state In 1979, a presidential degree led to the creation of the Institute for the Conservation of National Heritage (ISPAN), as a function of the Ministry of Culture and Communications (Elie, involved the restoration of the Citadelle Laferrire fortress and the Sans Souci Palace, which were added to the UNESCO World Heritage SCO, 2012). The old national museum was reestablished in 1982 as the Muse du Panthon National Hatien (MUPANAH). It was housed in a structure originally intended as the mausoleum of Franois Duvalier, Jean which was later reserved by the Museum of the Fathers of the Nation, and finally set aside for the National Museum due to its prominent spot near the National Palace (Paret, 2010). The new setting was paired with five permanent exhibition spaces to interp ret Haitian history from the pre Columbian era to modern times, as well as a large space for traveling exhibitions (Paret, 2010). The reevaluate its educational and research mission, it did not receive the same facelift as the national museum (Doucet, 2001).


19 Limb, a small town located on the road between Gonaves and Cap Hatien, received its first museum, the Muse de Guahaba, in December of 1983. The museum was established by Dr. William H. Hodges, whose interest in the area beg a n with his appointment as the director of the Hpital Bon Samaritain (HBS), a hospital founded in 1953 to provide low cost healthcare in Limb and the surrounding region (HBS, n avid archeologist who acquired most of his collection by working directly in the field, Dr. Hodges hoped that the establishment of a ethnographic museum way that they wi in Hamilton, 1984, p. 1). Over the years, funding for the Muse de Guahaba has consisted of grants, donations, private funds, support from visiting scholars, and the sale of publicati on s and reproductions of artifacts (Hamilton, 1984). The Muse du Peuple de Fermathe, opened in 1986, has some historical similarities with the Muse de Guahaba. It begins with the arrival of the missionaries Wallace Turnbull and Eleanor Holdeman to the Ke nscoff area of Fermathe in 1946 n 1948, and spent the next several years establishing the Haiti Baptiste Mission (HBM) which included a church, medical facilities, associat ed schools, a restaurant, shop, and years he spent in Haiti, Wallace Tur n bull is said to have collected a wide range of items onverting witch doctors, Indian relics found through excavation, cannon balls and other items found at abandoned forts, French


20 n n In 1990 an extensive ten year restoration project of the Citade lle Laferrire fortress, the Sans Souci Palace, and the Ramiers buildings by ISPAN, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and UNESCO (If you define this earlier, you can just say UNESCO here) was completed, and the sites were opened to the publi c as the Citadelle Muse (Doucet, 2001; Elie, 2010). The se included signage, guest facilities, a kiosk near the entrance of Sans Souci, and an exhibition space a t the Citadelle explaining its history and restoration through photographs (Doucet, 2001). It would signal the last major museum project undertaken by the government until the infamous Independence Museum mentioned in the introduction. Between the years 1990 and 200 1 Haiti had eleven heads of state. The t ransitions between presidents were often vi olent and at the expense of the population, its economic wellbeing, and social infrastructure ( Dubois 2012). Although the two national museums remained active, the political instability largely shifted the creation of museums to private interest groups. And it is exactly during this environment that the Desprez opened its doors. The museum was originally composed of the private art collection of Georges Nader, who founded the Galerie Nader in 1966 (Gizolme & Lescot, 2010). Durin g its 1992 opening, t he staff at Nade r believed it the


21 The museum remained open for eight more years, until it was demolished by the January 12 earthquake. In 1993, the Muse Og i e r Fombrun opened in Montrouis. It was built atop the The plantation remai ned active until the early 1800 s, when the death of its ow ner during a battle against runaway slaves at another plantation in 1799 led to its subsequent abandonment (G. Fombrun, 1997; M. Fombrun, 2012). In 1977 architect Gerard Fombrun acquired the ruins of the former plantation, which included a nearly intact aq ueduct, and conducted a five year restoration project so that it could be visited by the d the importance of the site, thus explaining the Muse Gigier (G. Fombrun, 1997). The museum was fairly active until the deteriorating health of Gerard Fombrun caused several periods of inactivity (M. Fombrun, personal communicatio n, June 5, 2012). In 2004 the Parc Historique de la Canne Sucre, a site that shares a common colonial history with the Muse Ogier Fombrun, opened its doors to the public in 2004. The site originally housed the sugar plantation of Louis de Taveau de Cha mbrun de Chateaublond, which was founded in 1771 and remained active as a slave plantation until 1803 (Boyer, 2012; Douby 2012). After 1804 ownership was passed on to various presidents and generals until it was acquired by Tancrede Auguste, president bet ween 1912 and 1913, who resumed sugar production from 1895 to 1925 (Douby 2012). In 2002 the heirs of August established the Fondation Franois Canex Auguste so that


22 part of their inherited land could be used for the formation of a public interpretive site and museum (Boyer, 2012). It consist s of some colonial structures as well as 18 th century buildings and equipment from the period when sugar production resumed, and the museum contains pre Columbian ethnographic artifacts. have been established to date, was the Muse Georges Liautaud in Noailles, Croix de Bouquets. It was established in 2008 by the Bouquets (ADAAC), with financial support from UNE SC O among other sources. It was nam e d after a famous artist from the area, Georges Liautaud, and intended as a space where artists could get together to view and display contemporary works of art (Przeau, 2009). The museum was built as a covered open air pavilion and open grounds with an adjacent art library and computer room. The trajectory of Haitian museums dramatically changed course in Janua ry 12 of 2010, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed hundreds of thousands of people and left just as many inju Logne caused widespread destruction to the capital and neighboring towns. In the moments after the major shock of the earthquake was felt, Elisabeth Prval, the former First Lad y of Haiti desc huge cloud of dust rising from the city below carrying desperate cries of sorrow and calls for help; crowds of wounded children and cited in Kurin, 2011 p. 17). Images shown in the media and the accounts of other survivors illustrate a time of confusion, pain, and sorrow.


23 Hospitals, churches, schools, police stations, and even the most basic of infrastructure were in shambles. The National Palace and th e National Airport were virtually unusable, as were many roads and systems of communication. The rubble also and the murals of the Episcopal Church Varying degrees of damage also affected artifacts at the Parc Historique de la Canne Sucre and MUPANAH (Kurin, 2011). Just as medics, police officers, firefighters, and aid providers step ped in to help people du ring troubling times, however, so too did museum professionals and Kurin, 2011, p. 24). The effort to save the cultural artifacts damaged by the earthquake was not small in scale. It was titled the Haiti Cultural Recovery Project and involved the combined efforts of the Government of Haiti, the Government of the United States, t he Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. and Haiti Committee of the Blue Shield, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), La Fondation Connaissance et Libert (FOKAL), ISPAN, UNESCO, and several other partners, associations, and individual volunteers (Bertrand, 2010; Haiti Cu ltural Recovery Project. 2012).


24 CHAPTER 3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWOR K T he word museum in Haitian Creole, mize, is an accent mark away from the word misery. As the quick response t o muse erpart in French demonstrates, i t is not necessarily a widely used word. Although puzzled looks could also be attributed to mispronunciations on my part one does not know how many times I might have asked for directions to misery the French term which adorn s the name of every self identified museum in Haiti, does have a longer history as an institution than the term mize The preference of French over Haitian Creole in administrative structures is not uncommon, but that museum s are exclusively labeled with the French term demonstrate a deep association with Europe in the roots of Haitian museums as formalized institutions. In this context, it is not surprising that so many members of the Haitian diaspora turn to Europe, or now the U.S. and Canada, for museum prototypes. But as this chapter will demonstrate, the sentiment over the conditional existence of museums cannot be sustained by this and similar narrati ves, just as the correlation between museums and an active state societ y sometimes falter. Readings of Museums of protecting various groupings of objects, as well as buildings or natural sites, and often the instruments used to capture intangible heritage, by museum professionals, volunteers, community leaders, or religious leaders on behalf of their constituents. In remote areas of Haiti such as Limb, local notions of the word museum may be founded on the knowledge of a single intuition, whereas metropolitan areas like Petionville or Port au Prince may offer a multitude of examples. Travel, as mentioned before can


25 also increase the number of models used to define what museums are or what they could be. Although comparisons are natural, it is impo rtant to remember that all museums are not created equal nor do they always serve the same purpose. An others but this does not make one better or worse. As previously discussed, unfoun ded comparisons are unproductive and meritless. Thus, this thesis employs a wide reading of museums and utilizes multiple sets of definitions rather than using singular models. This primarily includes structures or spaces where tangible or intangible herit age are systematically collected, preserved, exhi bited, and explored by scholars and experts, and members of the public. In Haiti this translates to art museums, history and ethnographic museums, permanent exhibition spaces, site museums, natur al sites, an d religious spaces. A s Donald Preziosi (2003) has argued, museums are a continuum of actions in a world where "virtually anything can serve as content in a museum and in which virtually s framework, museums ar e an enduring apparatus used to organize and understand information, or more specifically, types of socially defined institution s whose fragmented reflection s of life are synonymous with the constructs of hyperreality F ormal museum environments, which are institutions created for the sole purpose of being museums of something else, reflect the view that museums are something original to our state in human history, an extraction of nature rather than a n extraction of activities we already consume These ele ments allow for a construction of the past as a way of understanding the present through the isolation and extrapolation of material objects from their former surroundings, influencing the self and the other through the interchangeableness of the subject and the object (Preziosi,


26 2003). Even in site museums or sites of memory, where thing are supposedly in their environment, interpretation and oral history guide the reconstruction of memories, earlier periods, and traditions. Pierre Nora (1989) interpret s memory to be different than history, the latter referring to a confined structure while the former signaling a continuum. In Haiti, a vast amount of what might be considered to be a museum is related to memory, and sites that are often unstructured by fo rmalized institutions. To Nora, distinguishing these sites certain spaces to be given more importance in collective identities than others (p. 19). These types of sites are referred to with various terminologies in the literature. The term e comuseum, for example, is used to label spaces where natural environments, community centers, educational c enters, or exhibition halls disseminate, protect, and promote tangible and inta ngible cultural traditions (Rivire, 1985). O pen air museums, which are similar in nature to ecomuseums, include buildings, gardens, or demonstrations of traditional activities (Davis, 2011) Site museums, also referred to as historical sites, refer to spa ces that are associated with particular moments in time, or where major events have occurred, such as battles or social movements (Silverman, 2006). In their most natural states, meaning those that do not require manual upkeep from the national government, site museums can flourish regardless of the functionality of political administrations. This is particularly relevant with sites of spiritual importance, where the driving force of devotees can lead to the preservation of patrimony. Spirituality is prese nt in virtually all aspects of Haitian society. From theater to literature, to the visual arts music, religious and spiritual references are an


27 indispensable part of life that features prominently in the present just as it did in the past. One does not hav e to be a practitioner of Vodou to notice its presence in folk tales and legends, the way it influences painters or flag makers, or the many Kreyl words that come directly from the religion (Bertrand, 2010). Christianity establishes its presence through t he many architecturally significant churches found throughout the country, complete with sculptures, murals, and paintings. Many types of Folk art depict Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and scenes from the Bible in creative and colorful ways. And like Vodou, most denominations have an array of accompanying musical traditions that are Haitian Vodou is a rich and complex element of Haitian national identity as it exists not only in spiritual pr actice but also in all spheres of culture, including local economy, politics, social infrastructure, and cultural manifestations (Fleurant, 2006). The religion itself as a formal practice is not centered on material possessions. While places of worship can be architecturally creative, there is no dependency on buildings since the hounf, or Vodou temple, may be recreated in the natural environment through the dirt, trees, and riverbeds. And although objects allow for music and evoking and honoring the lwa, practitioners can be resourceful and find suitable replacements in nature itself. W hat matters most in Vodou is a web of practices in honor of spiritual forces and expressions of knowledge that are passed down from generation to generation through continuo us practice. This includes impermanent symbols ( vv ) that must be traced, dances that must be acquired, and perhaps more important, verbal manifestations. Claudine Michel (2006) refers to the latter as oral performances that include "memories, tales, meta phoric images, proverbs, songs, prayers, and... spiritual


28 and artistic expressions" (p. 32). Songs are particularly vital as they can be used either to call the spirits or as chants and prayers. In addition, to these practical uses, the continued acquisiti on and dissemination of Vodou songs over the course of Haitian history has also led to the conservation of African words, references, and concepts that date back to the colony of Saint Domingue or Africa and have not been conserved elsewhere (Hebblethwaite 2012). Lastly, they are also used as an educative tool for the training of initiatives and practitioners alike (Michel, 2006). More so than a space of worship and ceremonies, hounfs are community centers where precious written and oral knowledge is pre served, where objects of great spiritual significance whose handling is limited through hierarchy are protected, where oral histories are passed on, where initiates are instructed, where pilgrimages and major ceremonies are observed, where the public comes to solve problems and disputes, and where the most secretive elements of the initiatory religion are contained (Hebblethwaite, personal communication). Most importantly from the perspective of heritage, however, hounfs and other Vodou sites have preserve d histories and traditions that otherwise would not be available to the world today. Throughout the last two hundred years, on and off legal efforts to extinguish Vodou from Haiti have led to the persecution and oppression of practitioners, who, like their predecessors, have hid den their practices from the public eye when necessary (Olmos and Paravisini Gebert 2011). Since it is still not tolerated by all members of the Haitian society, and since many members of the diaspora follow contrasting religious vi ews, the idea of Vodou temples as museums may inadvertently support their original intentions This is


29 something that can only be speculated, however, and would need further scholarship to develop. The State and National Identity Museums play an important role in the formation of national identity through their ability to influence public perception on art, culture, history, aesthetics, intellectualism, and the monetary or scholarly value assigned to artifacts (Haacke 1984 ). This ability is not an underst atement, as everything from what a museum collects to how its collection(s) is displayed is affected by the constructions of narratives and its motivators (Chagas, 2010 ) As Annie E. Coombes (2004) explains, The degree to which the museum as a site of the production of scientific knowledge and as the custodian of cultural property can claim a position of relative autonomy from the vagaries of party politics and State intervention, is an issue central to an actu al and possible role today (p. 279). This concept is not only applicable to ethnographic museums but also to history museums whose primary function is the creation and dissemination of a cohesive national narrative. In countries marked by economic dispar ity, political turmoil, and unwarranted foreign influence, museums become key instruments of a shared identity. Kenneth Hudson (1999) exemplif ies this by chronicling museum activity in Ghana and Tanzania, where museums have been used as symbols of autonomy from foreign powers. The same is true in Latin American, where the establishment of national museums tended to closely follow independence from foreign power (Andermann, 2007). Haiti is no different. As the chapter on the history of Haitian museums illust rated, the formation of


30 various public museums followed periods of foreign intervention, or preceded major political changes. What is interesting, perhaps, is that continuation of said institutions during hefty political climates. MUPANAH, for example has survived various periods of political instability since its inception in the 1980s. The fall of Jean Claude Duvalier the tumultuous battles between the supporters and enemies of Jean Bertrand Aristide and several provincial leaders, to name a few politi cal instances, all left Haiti without continuous leadership. In addition to systematically affecting matters of national importance, circumstances surrounding these events also affected day to day activities. Yet the MUPANAH continued as a symbol of stabil ity and progress. The same is true during times following great environmental crisis. In May of 2012, when I visited MUPANAH for the first time, I was initially surprised by the continuation of museum activities despite times of civil unrest. From the ro oftop of the Champs de Mars tent city, a large complex composed of displa ced e arthquake victims (Figure 3 1 ) The eye level view led past what outsiders can normally s ee at eye level and the museum starkly separated the green trees and open space from the tight quarters of the tents. In July of 2012, the camp was cleared as a part of the 16/6 program, a government initiative to repair sixteen neighborhoods and clear six of the most populated camps (Gaestel, 2012), and once again leads to a green park (Figure 3 2) Although eerie, the continuation of museum activities despi te


31 sites of struggle near its doors demonstrated its role as part of the status quo, and perhaps signaled the public that life would eventually resume its former pace. The care for public institutions, however, is completely hierarchal and perhaps based o n which sites have are best able to capture patriotic sentiments. Out of the two major public museums, for example, the continuous activities of the MUPANAH are not matched by the which has faced long periods of mismanagement. Whereas the MUPANAH provides Haitians with remains associated with its founding fathers, a chronological view of its history, and detailed biographies of its political leaders, the provides artifacts of scientific study that a re largely reserved for scholarly contemplation. Its display hall is small in comparison to the MUPANAH, and does not have the same display of patriotism: the relating to its political history. The same could be said of historical sites. Wilfrid Bertrand (2010) list s several sites ich national history, including the Valire, Grce and Morne Cabris fortifications Jacques, Fort Alexandre and F the Cul de east; and the Platons Citadel in the south. (p. 36). Yet a s of today, the conditio n of many of these sites is very precarious. In her efforts to document historical sites in Haiti, Stephanie Curci (2008) exclaims that many are in a state of ample abandonment, and are victims of vandalism and theft, despite being previously restored or c ared for Theft consists of petty crimes a s well as large scale operations For instance, she describes buildings that are deconstructed so that their


32 materials can be used, sites cleared for farmland, metal objects melted for money, and on a larger scale, she describes the use of a helicopter during the theft of a bronze cannon in St. Louis du Sud (p. 121 122). in the construction of national identity as the two sites that do receive a great amount of gover nment attention: the Sans Souci Palace and the Citadelle Laferrire The ruins of Henri Christophe regal residence and the fortress that never sought. Over the year s, they have been featured prominently in tourism campaigns as well as in house examples of grandeur. Their present political importance was demonstrated earlier in 2012 when President Michel Martelly visited the Ci tad elle to view the progress of its resto ration. The meeting led to an unexpected angry outburst by the president, whose enragement over what he perceived to have been inadequate thousands of Haitians (Le No uvelliste, 2012). The shouts of the president discredited the individuals who work for the restoration of the Citadelle while portraying him as an advocate i n the eyes of the public Since then, r estructuring has taken place through the creation of a single governmental unit that now specifically oversee s the Citadelle, Sans Souci, and the buildings at Ramiers (Caribbean Journal, 2012). The choice in monuments is not necessar ily due to a disregard for other historical sites, but rather an allocation of dwindling resources. According to Helaine Silvermann (2006), many countries in Latin America (and the Caribbean) struggle with balancing the glory of the past with the current e conomic limitations creat ing To Haiti, MUPANAH, the Citadelle, and the Sans Souci are the equivalents of that glory.


33 The Conditional Existence of Museums The conditionality of museums reflects (2003). Museums of all kinds are a testament to order, organization, and freedom, for the time and resources required to administer them signify the fulfillment of o ther needs. Ideas of modernity, however, can have a confusing relationship with development, or a quest for a future that is perceived to be better than present or past conditions. The idea that a lumes in population notions of modernity and development. It involves a direct comparison between nations where one is viewed as the ultimate goal, an unrealistic set of standards that must be inst one another, from third world to first, from developing to developed, creates an ongoing process of infinite perfection. Comparisons between museums, where one is neg ated because it is not believe to as developed as another, parallel this concept. It is undertaken by the public, through the comments I have described, and through scholars and museum professionals alike. In 1972 UNESCO hosted the Round Table Santiago do Chile the first international meeting of Latin American museum professionals. The meeting focused on certain aspects of social and economic development in Latin America" ( Guido, 1972, p. 2). It called museum professionals from the region to interpret the role of their museums resources and support to resolve regional issues. Scholars met again a decade later,


34 this time with the inclusion of Caribbean museums, to evaluate their progress (Arjona et al, 1982). In the literature that ensued from the meeting, Fernanda de Camargo Moro (1982), proposed the idea that the influence of European museums in the region was region (p. 87). In her view, while museums were busy adopting models f rom other i n the very museums they were modeling. A lot has changed in the thirty years since this second assessment, including the formation of the Museums Association of the Caribbean in 1987 (Marchal, 1998) and a multitude of scholarship from the region that has been essential on an international level, but Camargo lingering feeling of inferiority that is not always reflective of daily life In the United States, for instance, scores of naturalized minorities seek to be recognized in museums as a right towards diversity. Often, members of these minority interest groups are shocked at how slowly their cultural identity is reflected in establi shed American museums. I often wondered, while reading their criticisms of American museums and the need for greater diversity in the display of other nationalities, whether Americans have fought similar fights in the countries they inhabit. And to return to Camargo statement, whether Europeans saw themselves in Latin American museums just as members of the latter wanted to see themselves in the museums of the former. According to Rachelle Charlier Doucet, a major setback for Haitian museums has bee n the tendency to implement Western models that are not ada pted to local circumstances ( personal communication, June 15, 2012). What do these setbacks and


35 models look like and when have the y been implemented ? Elsewhere in the literature, concrete examples of models and setbacks can be examined in several regions. While writing on the implementation of Western models of heritage maintenance in southern Africa, Webber Ndoro and Gilbert Pwiti (2005) stated that the application of foreign values in the area ha s led to the formation of elite circles that tend to disregard local thoughts and ideas when interpreting and managing archeological artifacts and sites. This also led to the prohibition of religious and spiritual activities on sacred sites, such as the ba n of rituals at Domboshawa, in Zimbabwe or the desacralization of the Mojojo site in Botswana, which was originally reserved for religious leaders but eventually occupied by scientists and scholars (Ndoro and Pwiti, 2005). Similar criticism can be found in the work of Arjun Appadurai and Carol A. Breckenridge, in which they explain why Western models of museums do not re adily fit within Indian culture as India still has a living past found especially in its sacred places and spaces, so there is little room history, or religion) from the objects of everyday life had not really biological, zoological, and cosmological environment in which they lead their ordinary lives had barely begun (1992, p. 39). But the same is not true everywhere, as evident in the work of Malcolm McLeod (1999) on the Manhyia Palace Museum, which was constructed by the Asante of Ghana in 1995, is particularly relevant. McLeod documents how the Asante community in Kumasi decided to start their own museum so that their heritage could be celebrated by community members as well as outsiders, such as other Ghanaians or tourists from ot her countries. The leaders responsible for the project used a mixture of local and


36 European (based on museums they had visited) practices to design the museum, of which the most critical decision was the irrelevancy of owning a collection in the manner of European museums. To the Asante, the objects related to kingship or religious rites had daily functions in addition to being historically important, an d since many had been preserved for generations without issue, removing them from their original function s was counterproductive. While copies of some were showcased, the museum focused primarily on videography, effigies, and the display of an important room that served no to consider the Manhyia Palace Museum a real museum despite the lack of a collection. For him, the mix of African customs, where important heritage objects are conserved for centuries on end while still serving utilitarian functions, with European notions of display, merit a broad perspective of museums across cultural lines. non Western, but more so situations where an outsider demands a certain model without adaptation. In the cas e of Haitian museums, outside influences have not made difficult demands with frequency When describing challenges facing Haitian museums, for example, Gerald Alexis, who has worked in curatorial and administratively roles both in the Muse du Panthon Na described differences in the use of electricity, air conditioning, and HVAC systems in both museums. According to him, the MUPANAH met those standards so that it could host international exhibitions tha t would not travel to museums with lesser standards, while the art museum opted for natural, local solutions that were sustainable and within their budget ( personal communication, October 15, 2012). The influence here was a


37 matter of choice, and institutio ns all around the world work towards accommodating one another as it is known that drastic changes in the way an object is cared for can cause damage. As an example, American museums follow Japanese techniques of scroll conservation just as a Japanese muse um might follow American standards when caring for an American object. Influence is no longer, if it ever was, truly one sided. In the words of Kevin Robins (1999), With i ncreasing glob alization both economical ly and politically, as well as culturally high er levels of interconnectivity blur the lines of Western Haiti, where as many as one out of every six Haitians lives abroad (FCO, 2012, "H aiti") distinguishing various types of influences can be complicated as many Haitians now live in the regions that are negatively accusing influence. With the number of NGOs throughout the country, or even its influence abroad with, for example the foundi ng of the Haitian Heritage Museum (HHM) in Miami, lines can be blurred Rather than create a productive discussion, arguments of Western influence assume certain regional implications rather than paint a complete picture of how ideologies from multiple reg ions affect any given country. In the case of Haiti, the overwhelming attention on European influence of museums sometimes overshadows African influence. No scholar of Haitian culture denies the African influence of the way information is organized and dis seminated in Vodou, or on the strong oral traditio ns and perf ormativity current in Haitian culture. the creation of art museums (Malraux, 2004), or assistance in conserving damaged paintings or art ifacts. Whether positive or negative, Haitian museums are just as affected by


38 European principles as they are by its African roots and continued relationship with the continent. Views of Western influence in Latin American as negative also undermine the h istorical relationship between Europe and the Americas. In The Optic of the State (2007), Jens Andermann explores the roles of Brazilian and Argentinian museums in the formation of national identity. It becomes evident that from the onset, museums in both countries not only applied European methods of museology but also routinely sought European approval for such applications. Even over time, as each nation developed their institutions according to their own needs, collaboration and the exchange of ideas di d not cease. While writing about English colonies, John M. Mackenzie (2009) describe a trajectory that started with Western models of chronology attempt to replicate the great institutions in Europe or U.S.A. in expected, to their own circumstances. When Doucet spoke of development, or more specifically of foreign models infringing on development, it reflects a certain level of mismanagement that has continued in some of the museums that currently exist in Haiti. But while some private museums do seem to slowly vanish, so do certain public institutions, and in both categor foreign become loosely applied terms. What is evident however, is that such notions are active in the conception of museums through the idea that certain regions hold a greater s explain in this chapter, however, such notions are


39 historically unfounded as there are plenty of examples of positive influence, historical connectedness, and the blurred lines between what is Western and what is not. Of the stat e, it can be said that museums play a pivotal role in the Haitian government that has enabled their continuation despite situations that would otherwise appear to inhibit them. Figure 3 1 View from the MUPANAH rooftop in May of 2012. Figure 3 2 View from the MUPANAH rooftop in October of 2012.


40 CHAPTER 4 CURRENT MUSEUMS The museums chronicled in this chapter provide a general survey of active museums in Haiti. Some institutions, such as the Muse Numimastique in Cap Hatien a re not included due to lack of activity and difficulty of access. Sites of memory include the two most well known sites, the Citadelle and the Sans Souci, and Vodou temples include three of the oldest temples in Gonaives. Sites were visited in May, June, a nd October of 2012 and included interviews with museum per sonnel when possible. Appendix A is a di rectory of each site, Appendix B lists funding sources, staff sizes, and entrance fees, and Appendix C documents the state of physical collections. The descr iption of each site focuses on demonstrating how exhibition areas, community usage, or current undertakings reflect the prominent role of museums in Haitian society and national identity and how each institution is comparable the institutions often used to negate their existence as museums. du Collge Saint Pierre The 2010 earthquake caused $200,000 worth of damage to the Haiten While money for a full restoration is being raise d, the staff plans on conducting minimum repairs so that at least part of the museum will open to the public by December 2012 or January 2013 (C Corbanese personal communication, October 2 2012). Serious fundraising to reopen the museum did not initiate until 2012, when muse um friends, supporters and employees came together to Hatien Support Committee of New York. The overall function of the TLCF is to ort Haitian cultural activities in Haiti and in the


41 United States though currently it is focusing on the museum donation drive, and a partnership with the Muse du Louvre, where an exhibition of catalog, which focuses on the life of the artist and is being sold worldwide, benefit the restoration fund Hec tor Hyppolite Catalog The majority of support for the reopening of the museum has come from members of the diaspora, as well as artists, art historians, critics, and scholars working in Haiti. A lthough it has received significant aid from the Haiti Cu ltural Recovery Project, enabling much of its collection to be saved, remaining backing has been a product of its staff, board members, and the TLCF. The general public itself has not publically lamented its closure as a group, though its post earthquake c ondition is a reminder to all of those who work or live in the surrounding neighborhoods (Figure 4 1) The pristine museum, provides some insight into the difficulty suppo rters have witnessed towards allocating large amounts of funds toward the non profit institution. For many artists and art students however, the loss of the space is a daunting symbol of the challenges arket. When the building housing the Nader and the part of the for sale Nader collection collapsed photos of Georges Nader, Jr. and his family personally searching the rubble for the salvageable pieces quickly surfaced in t he media The family, along with volunteers from the Haiti Cultural Recover project, eventually saved an astounding 15,000 pieces of art, 1,000 of which belonged to the museum ( Kurin,


42 2011 ). By September 2011, eighteen of the pieces in most critical condit ion were restored though the Haiti Cultural Recovery Project (Kurin, 2011). The rest were sent to the third and second floors of the Galerie Nader where they remain today (Figure 4 2) has not discouraged the Nader family from wanting to display its private and public collection. In 2012 Georges Nader, Jr. reached out to the newspaper Le Nou v elliste about the need of creating a national museum. The article focused on the Nader family, its collection, and why interes ted parties should collaborate with them on the creation of a new art museum (Augustin, 2012) Since the article, Georges Nader, Jr. and Frantz Large Nader have written a preliminary unpublished document that outlines the museum they want to build The doc ument begins with a justification of the need of an art museum continues with lists of administrative needs such as security, conservation, a restaurant, and gift shop, and ends with a description of the categories of Haitian art that should be collected. A final section on Vodou defines as its own collection area so that objects, performances, and lectures regarding Vodou may be undertaken The final section lists the next steps that expected deadline of 2015 cultural groups but also how that importance does not readily fit into the government, which funds a public history museum, a public ethnography museum, and the historical sites, but does not play a major role in Haitian museums about art. Muse du Panthon National Hatien (MUPANAH) MUPANAH provides visitors with a chronolo gical view of Haitian history from the


43 displays a wide range of topics which in the recent past have included the history of the Haitian flag and a survey of female Hai tian artists. The opening of temporary exhibitions often involve s a visit from museum personnel from other museums, important governmental officials, the president, and the first lady, who often contribute the text for at least one text panel. On a regular day, large crows of school children, tourists, and locals can be seen throughout the museum. On a particular occasion, I also witnessed children outside of school groups who opted to go to the museum on their own. Tours are included in the ticket price an d can be received in French, Haitian Creole, and English Some recent changes in the museum include a new Facebook, the popular social networking website that was launched in March of 2012 The page is regularly updated with exhibition information, digital versions of pamphlets and visitor guides, and photographs of museum objects, temporary exhibitions, and visitors. Th e availability of this resource ability to connect with former, current, and future visitors. The new web presence greatly its history. The web presence, along with the strong social component of its exhibition openings, demonstrate s the MUPANA identity. This is reflect ive both in the elite society, who attend the openings, as well as in the general public who visit it during regular days. At the beginning of my vis of 2012, the site was virtually deserted. Without the rush of professors, administrators, and students, the grounds of the museum felt largely desolate. By the end of my visit,


44 however, a group of Vodou priests and priestesses in the garden area were m idway through a lively meeting, drummers and dancers in the courtyard patiently waited for the remainder of their group for an afternoon performance, and in the steps to the a group discu ssed of the role of museums in Haitian society. itself houses the administration of the Bureau a library and an exhibitions area When I visited the site in October 13, the exhibition area consisted of two cases and one exhibition w ere o n display. The first case was dedicated to anthropology, and included a wide range of cultural artifacts that had religious, artistic, or functional meanings. The second case focused on archeology, and included examples of archeological artifacts thro ughout Haitian history. It was organized by a color coded wheel where each slice contained a period in Haitian history. The exhibition area included an exhibit on the syncretism of Haitian Vodou. It consisted of a large wall featuring several posters of Ca tholic Saints and their associations in Vodou, and a poto mitan during ceremonies. The exhibition itself did not seem cohesive as lack of space required work desks to be placed between the main wall and the poto mitan (Figure 4 3 ) Today, the museum is virtually unrecognizable from my description, as the festivities of fet gede a Vodou festival where ancestors are celebrated, has transformed the available cases and display areas into fet gede in spired exhibitions. The opening involved a big celebration where people were able to view the new displays in addition to celebrating the festival. The museum is primarily known for its extensive ethnographic collection, which although recovered after the Earthquake, was mixed matched in large containers sent to the MUPANAH for storage. M useum employee s such as Charite Joseph for


45 example, are individually match ing each artifact with its photograph and registration number so that the collection may be reor ganized Despite the lengthy process however, Joseph is hopeful because of the new appreci ation for the collection that has been instilled in him by E rol Josu the new director the museum (C Joseph personal communication, October 13 2012) Erol Josu a Vodou Oungan (priest) and scholar of the religion has taken leadership of the museum since the beginning of October. His current priority is the re organization of the collection and its relocation from the MUPANAH storag e into the grounds of the Burea u the museum so that it may provide a modern interpretation of et hnology to the Haitian people ( personal communication, October 13 2012) a community center for Vodou, as evident per the new exhibition, the festival, and the ongoing use of the space. In some ways, it provides a different aspect of national identity than is found at the MUPANAH. Whereas the MUPANAH provides a history that has already been completed, the Bureau utilizes its objects to create living history, a space where the traditions associated with Haitian culture are able to take place. Muse Ogier Fombrun The Muse Ogier Fombrun is located on a beautiful site filled with gardens that adorn its outdoor artifacts sculptures amphitheater, and main exhibition hall. The main exhibition hall tells the history of Haiti from 1492 to 1804 (Figure 4 4) while a side hall includes a chapel and a separate area that displays examples of furniture from the colonial area. I t was inherited by the sculptor Mireille Fombrun, one of the daughters of G rard Fombrun who now runs the museum. It contained the registrarial issues above, no staff, and a non catalogued collection. After closing th e museum for a period of time,


46 Mireille re opened it with a new mission and strategy. The new mission focuses on transforming the museum into a site for historical interpretation, where slavery and smit ideas of national identity and heritage. The strategy includes a restoration plan to fix the collection and revamp the exhibition areas (M. Fombrun, personal communication, June 5, 2012). A part of the strategy contains a marketing plan to lessen the beach resort Moulin Sur Mer, which is also owned by the Fombrun family. Associations between the two will only continue formally through the Moulin Sur Mer Foundation, an organization s profits could be distributed to the museum and the neighboring community. At the moment, this has included the construction of a water well in the neighboring city as well as the continuous donation of $2 U.S. per overnight hotel stay to the museum. To target education an d access, Mireille has hired two guides and an accountant and personally visited neighboring schools in addition to mailing information packets to other institutions From M arch to October, the changes started to yield results as more th an two thousand school children r (M. Fombrun, personal communication, October 13 2012). The Muse Ogier oute project, which will eventually include tourist routes to major places that tell the history of the Atlantic slave trade. As one of the major themes of Haitian museums, the history of slavery and the slave trade provide a forum where the past as well a s the current conditions of Haiti may be interpreted and discussed. In personal communication, Mireille has often noted


47 the difficult task in providing such a forum. Since most of her target audience involves school children, a major challenge has been sel ecting a narrative for the explanation of slavery that does not promote angst towards present day Europeans. Muse du Peuple de Fermathe The small degrees of change that have occurred at th e Muse du Peuple de Fermathe since its exhibitions were originall y installed is not reflective of its ongoing public appeal. Despite appearing virtually unchanged from previous photographs, the museum receives an overwhelming number of school tours. During a teacher led tour that I had the pleasure of observing, s ome ch ildren stayed closely to their teachers, who pointed at different artifacts while asking questions while o thers lingered behind to re inspect whichever objects they found to be more interesting. Their excitement translated into loud laughs, comments, and the usual gasps young children make while holding their hands up and hoping to be picked to answer a question. What the museum lacked in object conservation was more than made up for with local educational value. The Muse du Peuple de Fermathe is unique in the repertoire of Haitian museums as the only institution whose collection includes cultural artifacts regions outside of Haiti and Latin America, natural history objects and display about fauna and flora, and other science materials that cover topics s uch as astronomy (Figure 4 5 ) The availability of such topics is important both to casual visitors as well as in education, as teachers may use said resources to engage students. It is interesting that only one museum in Haiti deals with science since na tural history was one of the major component s of the first museums to appear in other Latin American and Caribbean countries. Although most other museums do contain ethnological and archeological


48 collections, they still present such objects in the interest of identity and historical narrative, and not primarily as a way to t each science to visitors. Muse de Guahaba T he Muse de Guahaba tells the history of Haiti from the perspective that three great cultures the Indigenous populations, the Europeans, an d the Africans combined together through an entangled history that led to the melting pot of contemporary Haitian culture (Figure 4 6 ). To tell its narrative, the museum employs diagrams, artifacts, paintings, and ample use of text. It receives only enou gh funding to staff an individual to open and close the museum for school groups or scheduled visitors Hpital Bon Samaritain (HBS), mentioned that part of the issue regarding the lack of activity in the museum can be credited to the absence of an individual as eager as his grandfather to overlook the space and two other separate storage units He also explained that despite its degrading condition, the museum is still visited by school groups, who play ga mes or each lunch in the outside area while smaller groups make their way through the museum. The lush garden and playground were originally intended to accommodate the children waiting outside but continuous vandalism by the community led the hospital to cease maintaining the play area. When I visited the site however, it was exactly that area that was being used by the community. While the museum was empty, children climbed what remained of the playground while adults and teenagers played soccer in the p atch of grass. Groups of young girls gossiped on the benches after school while


49 the original functions of the museum but they are the community needs it is currently fulfilli ng. Muse Georges Liautaud Osias Taylor Marie Fadra an artist in Croix des B ouquets accompanied me o n my visit to the Muse Georges Liautaud in May of 2012. We began the visit by viewing the art works that hung on the concrete walls that border the wes t side of the museum complex. Osias carefully viewed ea ch object, casually pushing through the overgrown foliage as if it had always been there. The integration of the recycled wall pieces with the nature that surrounds it did not feel all that unnatural, and though I assume that a for her. Osias continued the visit by viewing the objects in the main exhibition space, a covered stage like area in the open air that featur ed flat metal pieces (Figure 4 7 ). After viewing the works, Osias, who made two of the pieces of art on the show, explained the benefits of the local museum. It allowed her to reflect on the works in her genre, and learn of new artists. At the time of the visit, visitors could be found using the computers in the community computer room, a space designed to enhance access to technology On the opposite side of the main exhibition space a room of the same size contained a book collection and other works of art Daniel Pael, the current director of the Muse Georges Liautaud, hopes the museum can grow and continue being a part of the local community ( personal communication, May 31 2012) After all the Muse Georges Liautaud is a great example of how a museu m may be created on behalf of its community, as it serves not only the general public but the active artist village that


50 surrounds it. It also demonstrates how there really is no standard for museum creation; two freights and an open area work perfectly we ll for the museum and its needs. Parc Historique de la Canne Sucre The Parc Historique de la Canne Sucre suffered sizable damage from the 2010 Earthquake but the damage was quickly restored and the artifacts that needed care were conserved in the Hai ti Cultural Recovery Project (Kurin, 2011). There are no visible signs that anything was ever damaged, and when I visited, the museum was active with visitors in the park area, restaurant, and bar. The park area includes an exhibition hall that houses a co llection of pre Columbian archeological artifacts among other collections and nearly twenty viewing areas of the sugar cane process These include a train from the 18 th century, an animal powered mill and a distillery. In addition to regular museum and vi sitor functions, the site also hosts a range of popular cultural events including large music festivals. The collections illustrate the two major themes of Haitian museums: colonial history and slavery and reconstructing the identity of the island s origin al indigenous population. Sans Souci Palace and the Citadelle Laferrire T he grounds leading up to Sans Souci Palace contain a large courtyard with gate that is on ly opened for those with Sans Souci admission tickets, tickets that also allow access to the Cit a delle, though they are not checked there Purchasing the tickets was a stressful event, as the attendees did not allow us to purchase a ticket that did not con tain a guide. After ample arguing against having a guide, they explained to us that guide. This did not explain, however, why the $10 US guide fee was applied to every


51 i guide. The tourist explained that after arguing with the attendees, he asked to see a price chart that was mentioned in a travel book. After a little more arguing, the tourist was ab le to enter at the minimum charge After our visit was over, we returned to the visitor kiosk to demand an explanation. The attendees admitted to coercing us into a higher price because as foreigners with a rental car and guide they thought the person of Haitian descent who was traveling with us was being paid to do so we obviously had money. The Haitian in our party avidly argued with them on the immorality of their actions, but they told him refunds were not possible. Through a twist in their conversation, they came to believe that I was a journalist writing about my experience at the Citadelle, at which point they immediately approached me in case I wanted the refund that had been mysteriously denied to my Haitian friend but was all of t he sudden available to me. When I relayed the experience to an ISPAN employee at a later meeting, it turned out to be a common problem they were trying to fix. Regardless of our initial troubles, the gu ide was very helpful and offered contextual informati on to each and every aspect to the Citadelle and the Sans Souci ed at the bottom entrance of Sans Souci wa s closed until its roof could be renovated, all other monuments were open to the public. On our way past the Chapel and into the main entranceway for the Palace two workers manually picked weeds from between the rocks On an archway, another man tireless ly tried to take a nap in the mid day heat. The site itself was refreshingly left as natu ral as possible, without added signage or modern adaptions. After surveying everything, we drove ourselves and our guide to the first Citadelle entrance. This


52 entrance is the farthest point achieved by any motor vehicle, and is composed of a large shaded c ourtyard filled with vendors selling fruits, snacks, and drinks. Although we opted to walk the long trail up to the Citadelle, donkey rides wer e available by independent operators Unlike Sans Souci the Citadelle had ample modern changes to facilitate th e and bathrooms, though t he highest areas offer no security fences or boundaries to keep visitors from falling or jumping off. A special exhibits room, currently closed to the p ublic, contained decaying i nterpretative text panels depicting the history of the Citadelle and the renovations originally done by ISPAN and its partners The room will soon feature a new exhibition by K enrick D emesvar a PhD Candidate in Ethnology and Her itage Studies at the Universit Laval in Canada and a member of The main courtyard of the Citadelle featured the greatest number of workers, as guards, UNESCO personnel researchers, and conservators moved between the offices a nd the site itself. Throughout vario us areas, conservators could also be seen working directly with the building by maki ng adjustments or calculations. As discussed earlier, the Sans Souci and the Citadelle are important symbols of Haitian sovereignty and identity. Unlike most Haitian museums, however, they also provide direct revenue to neighboring towns through the services associated with visitors. Thus, the sites are a vital element of local society on an economic level. The Holy Trinity Cathedral The Holy Trinity Cathedral, known by several names that range from the National Cathedral to the Cathdrale de Sainte Trinit became a living museum of Haitian art, culture, and religious spirit over the course of its existence. It was rebuilt as a church si x


53 times between1866 and 1924, when it acquired its final shape as a Cathedral (Delatour, 2011). The Cathedral contained priceless stained glass mural s that were painted in the 1880 s by Frederick Cole, and a stunning collection of religious murals painted b premier C s (Delatour, 2011; Pierre, 2011). This Episcopal Cathedral, where murals containing Vodou sy au waterfall and Souvenance Vodou temple could fit into their environment perfectl y, became the cosmopolitan nature of Haitian society where multiple cultures, ideas, and traditions blend together as a single nation (Delatour, 2011). The Cathedral completely collapsed during the earthquake. Only three out of fourteen murals were saved and all of the historic stained glass windows were either broken or stolen ( Pierre, 2011; Vilaire, 2011). When I visited the site in May of 2012, t he fence surrounding the Cathedral was dotted by a few tents, all of which neighbored sets of debris that did not make it to the church side of the fenced area. A UN woman dressed in a brown police uniform casually parked her car and asked a passerby to ta ke a portrait o f her in front of the Cathedral while on the other side, a fence On parts of exposed wall spaces spray paint ed messages such as Vive Hati shared sto ries of hope and sorrow The entire site was as dreary as walking by the collapsed Nation al Palace before its debris bega n to be cleared in October of 2012, and since the Cathedral already has a history of reconstruction, it could be in its future to once again rise in Port au


54 Vodou Temples In June of 2012, I visited Gonaves, a city in Northern Haiti that is internationally recognized as a Vodou center, to ask Vodou leaders priests and priestesses known as h ougans (males) and manbos (females) or as svit and practitioners if they shared the view of the hounf as a museum. The visit included the following temples: Nan Souvenans and La Soukri, where we encountered willing participants, and Nan Badjo where we did not encounter willing partici pants I was accompanied once again by Nina Hein and E. Savoir Fleurimond as well as a guide whose father is a hougan in Miami. Nan Souvenans was established over two hundred years ago (Segal, 1996), and is composed of a large complex filled with sacred trees, worship places, houses, and courtyards. At first, the people we encountered were reluctant to talk to us without the presence of the manbo, who was always in business. It took a long time to convince them that all we wanted was their opinions, and t hat none of the questions were re lated to V odou directly but to their own experiences. We also had to spend a long time discussing the words mize and muse which I defined as place s where history and traditions are preserved and shared with the local comm unity. With time and increasingly less hesitance, we begun to receive answers that described Nan individual added, to celebrate Haitian history because it is important to do so. Since the people we spoke with have lived in the Souvenans complex their entire lives, questions about whether the temple protects material possessions did not feel relevant to responders, though one said that if you donate an object to the temple you can come


55 many ancient trees found within the complex, as they are the homes of the lwa. Oral history and traditions were said to be preserved generation by generation by those who are born in Nan Souvenans. These individuals are responsible for passing on traditions so that heritage is preserved for all of Haiti. In the topic of education, the responders said that people can come to see and learn, a broad statement follow ed by the example of people coming to learn how to drum After our discussion, we were led around the premises as some of the participating respondents thought we should not leave without learning more about Vodou. La Soukri was established sometime befo re independence ( Saint Lot 2003), and contains a complex similar to Nan Souvenans. During our first visit, a lively day time ceremony was tak ing place under a covered patio. Children and adults silently watched as female practitioners danced and s a ng in unison to the beat of the male drummers. The manbo and other members of the hierarchy sat in a prominent spot where they could view the ceremony. When the manbo became approachable, she heard our case and agreed to meet us the next day. When we returned fo r our allotted meeting time, we were asked to wait outside of her house, which is the closest to the building holding the main altar space. We witnessed several transactions between the manbo a group of priestesses who had come to receive higher training, and had precedence over us to Our meeting with the manbo and her assistan ts took place in front of the main altar space where objects of devotion and offering honor the lwa Ezili Dantor It involved multiple interpre tations of each concept to ensure lessen the possibility of miscommunication For example, when asked if the La Soukri was a place where


56 lace where people come to learn [but one where] t said that everyone could come to see and ask questions, as we had done, and which by s inception). The more historically important objects, however, are only brought out during special yearly ceremonies while less important ones can be seen in altar spaces or with more frequency This is similar to art museums, where 98 percent of collecti ons are kept in storage and away from public view. The manbo was particularly attracted to talking heritage for people all over the world. Indeed, the temple receives m any international visitors during its biggest ceremonies on August 15, December 24, and January 6. For her, it was also valuable that even those who have not visited the temple in person have the opportunity to see it on TV, as many of its festivals have b een broadcast. In closing, she reiterated the transmission of knowledge from generation to generation, and the action was participating in a protection ceremony, where we were asked to think of positive things we wanted in life or for other people. There are many important places other than Vodou temples that are important to practice and worship (Michel, 1996). These include a host of spiritual si tes such as waterfalls, forests, and fields whose significance is primarily based on how practitioners view it within their cosmology and belief When asked whether a waterfall could be seen as a museum, Erol Josu the director of the hnologie mentioned


57 their non Ville Bonheur of Central Haiti, are alive and have energies that are always changing with each new year. As a third generation Vodou priest, he sees the new water that constantly flows, the new spirits, and the new practitioners, as a constant recycling of tradition ( H Josu personal communication, October 1 3 2012). If our set of museum definitions includes transitory spaces whose definition is continuous ly alte red by its community, the n Saut During the last one hundred and fifty years, has been visited by thousands and thousands of pilgrims, many of w hom have take n great personal or finan cial sacrifice s to visit its powerful waters. Some of this magic can be attributed to an 1842 earthquake that destroyed Cap Hatien but turned the o been home to other spiritual phenomenon, including a n apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1848 among to other sightings (Glaziert, 1983) It receives daily visits as well as large pilgrimages at the end of September, the middle of July, and during H oly W ee k (Glaziert, 1983; Wilentz, 1987). The July ceremonies receive the greatest amounts of people due to the yearly festival Notre Dame de Mont Carmel, also known as the festival of Virge Miracle, or the miracle of the Virgin. For nearly a week, Catholics cel ebrate the Virgin Mary while Vodouists celebrate zili Dant a lwa associated with the Virgin Mary ( Wilentz, 1987). The lines between both are often blurred, with participants sometimes belonging to both Vodou and Catholicism As Michel S. Lag uerre once o bserved


5 8 between Chr istian and vodun [sic] [sic] The entrance of the waterfall is prot ected by a blue and white gate with two small kiosks with gated windows on above the gate, while the phrase Aidez nous a mieux construire la cascade par votre participation r waterfall with your participation, is painted locked box is brought to the front of the gate. The box is only for foreigners, as Haitians or people of Haitian descent do not have to pay to get in. This practice is common in other parts of Haiti as it is in other countries, and is based on the idea that people should not be kept from visiting that which is theirs by birthright. The wide walkway from the gated entrance to t he waterfall is a paved mixture of ramps and stairs, with blue and white fences on both sides for walking support. At the base of the waterfall is a blue and white structure with beat up doors and some graffiti, which is repeated in the walls shaping the l andscaping. In every possible crook along the edges of the surrounding mountain are candles and empty bottles of rum. Metal crosses, old metal altars, and other material possessions from previous ceremonies blend with the natural environment (Figure 4 8 ) Women, men, and children bathe d in the river with soap they brought from home. Some c a me with hougans or manbos for special ceremonies. Others play ed in the water or lay on the rocks. The waterfall is mostly reserved for those who are willing to take their chances walking over slippery rocks or along the edges of the waterfall. Many times the sound of the water hitting the rocks are the only sounds available. Although information about the waterfall is passed


59 on among family members, visitors from other pla ces can easily learn more by paying one of the many independent guides. Although guides o ften have a more physical role in other waterfalls that cannot be easily reached without guidance, primar y purpose is in the oral explanation of th with the spirits. Figure 4 1 : Earthquake damage of the Muse d'Art Hatien.


60 Figure 4 2 : Pieces from the Muse d'A r t Nader permanent collection.


61 Figure 4 3


62 Figure 4 4 : The Muse Ogier Fombrun.


63 Figure 4 5 : Fauna display at the Muse du Peuple de Fermathe.


64 Figure 4 6 : Display at the Muse de Guahaba.


65 Figure 4 7 : Main exhibition area of the Muse Georges Liautaud


66 Figure 4 8 : Entrance of Saut d'Eau.


67 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION Haitian museums offer a dynamic insight into the complex role of museums in societies whose histories are filled with political turmoil, natural disasters, and economic hardships As reflection s of ongoing cultural and societal needs they disprove several misinterpretations abo ut museums and the state, primarily the continuation of functioning public museums despite periods o f lacking an could have museums is enough to stir different interpretation s of museums, let alone the reality that Haitian museums are socially significant centers where community members gather to dance, sing, talk, learn, debate and study T he y offer stability in times of unrest, assurance in ti mes of uncertainly; and partnerships in times of need. Most importantly however, they demonstrate to the individual that his or her tangible and intangible heritage is valuable and worthy of reflection. Despite facing many challenges, such as the deplorab le conditions of some museum collections (see Appendix C) or the difficulty of raising funds, Haitian museums have been fairly active in the two years since the 2010 earthquake. The Muse Ogier Fombrun and the MUPANAH are going to do exchange visits so tha tour guides may experience another museum; the Haitian Heritage Museum in Miami will host a fundraiser for the Muse Ogier the memory of slavery is active and offering Haiti a major role in the planning process; t he partnership between the and the Louvre museum ; among many other examples of collaboration between various museums As these examples demonstrate, Haitian museum professionals are actively seeking partnerships i n


68 different parts of the world and are seeking to share ideas and resources and disproving ideas that Western models are setting them back. As this thesis demonstrated, Haitian museums are comparable to museums in other regions as centers of the protection and dissemination of heritage, and even offer models that other regions would benefit from exploring such as the open format of the y not only fitting Haitian museums within the l iterature but through field work that demonstrates erature that define s museums through broad terms that do not exclude non universal museums. In closing, this understudied element of Haitian culture should be further explored as many other questions remain. From archival research to surveying the role of museums in the classroom, the field is open to new possibilities and interpretations, yet characterized by a lack of scholarship. Until then, however, Haitian museums will continue regardless, even if those who are not fortunate enough to visit them believ e they do not exist.


69 APPENDIX A DIRECTORY OF MUSEUMS Pierre Bois Verna, Port au Prince Collapsed. Galerie Nader 50 rue Gregoire, Petionville Phone Number: (509) 3709 0222 E Mail: galerienader@hotmail .com Website: Muse du Panthon National Hatien (MUPANAH) au Prince Phone Number: (509) 2943 5194 / 3417 4435 / 2514 0740 E Mail: Ethnologie 2 Avenue Magny et Oswald Durand, Port au Prince Muse Ogier Fombrun Augier, Montrouis Phone Number: (509) 4693 3018 / 3422 5909 E Mail: Website: www.moulin Ogier Fombrun Muse du Peuple de Fermathe 65, Fermathe, Mission Baptiste Phone Number: (509) 3255 9807 Muse de Guahaba 1, Limbe, HT1110, Phone Number: (509) 3922 7118 Muse Georges Liautaud Village de Noailles, Croix des Bouquets Pa rc Historique de la Canne Sucre Route de Tabarre, 509, Port au Prince Phone Number: (509) 511 8051 / 556 5893 E Mail: parc Website:


70 APPENDIX B PRICES FUNDING AND STAFF SIZE Table B 1 : List of entrance fees, funding, and staff size. Museum Entrance Fees Funding Staff MUPANAH C: .50 S: $1.25 A: $3 F: $3 P, G, A L Haiten Closed P, Gr/Fd L Closed C losed n/a Muse de Guahaba Donations P, A S Free G L Muse Peuple de Fermathe Donations P, A S Muse Georges Liautaud Free Gr/Fd S Muse Ogier Fombrun C: $2, SL $2, A: $5 P, Gr/Fd, A S Legend: Entrance Fees: C: Children, S: Student, A: Adult, F: Foreigner (Converted to US dollars) Funding : P: Private, G: Government, Gr/Fd: Grants/Foundation, A: Admission/Donation Staff Size: Small (s) : 1 4, Medium (m) : 5 9, Large (l) : 10+ Contain a different price for school groups.


71 APPEN DIX C GENERAL CONDITION RE PORT Table C 1 : Condition of buildings and (exhibited) collections. Name Collection Building Muse The collection is currently being stored in large freight containers outside of the museum. L eaking roof; broken windows; damaged storage area. The collection is being housed at the Galerie Nader. Many of the damaged pieces were restored after the earthquake. Collapsed during the earthquake. MUPANAH Some paper artifacts are i n deteriorating condition due to being in constant display; the remainder of the exhibited collection appeared to be in good condition. Pristine condition. Muse du Bureau Artifacts need to be reorganized matched with proper identification. Roof needs to be fixed, new storage area needed. Muse Ogier Fombrun Some paintings contain water damage; some artifacts have been painted green; the aqueduct was mortified and needs to be restored. Roof needs to be fixed. Muse du Peuple de Fermathe M any objects are on degraded condition due to constant exposure. No known problems. Muse de Guahaba Many objects are on degraded condition due to constant exposure. No known problems. Muse Georges Liautaud Collection items may appear worn out but are intended for outdoors. No known problems. Parc Historique de la Canne Sucre Pristine condition and post earthquake restoration. Pristine condition.


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78 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Natlia Marques da Silva was born in So Paulo, Brazil in 1987. She has a B achelor of Art: Art History from the University of Central Florida where she studied votive offerings At the University of Florida, where she earned a Master of Arts in Museology and a graduate certificate in Latin American Studies, her research expanded to include object identity as well as critical museology