Bye Bye Bonaire (for now)

Today is the last full day on Bonaire. I’ve been here a little over a week, but the day that I walked out of the plane and looked at that bright pink airport building (people who have been here before know what I am talking about!) seems months ago. So much has happened; I experienced a new island, learned new things how to build a museum and met new people. At the same time, I caught up with some good friends that live here now. It’s been a great trip and I can’t believe the end is already here…

Ruud and I made some great progress on the Terramar Museum. After finalizing the meetings with the designers, builders and architects last Wednesday, we have been working on the content of the museum. Most of the work is with the texts in the exhibit. We need to edit the pieces we prepared previously and reduce the size, as shorter texts are better readable for the average visitor. We also decided to add ‘soundbites from the past’ to the exhibit, where a person living in the past tells about an important event. By making these texts as a personal quote, we’re trying to make the information more palatable and create a more personal approach.

Ruud and I also contacted a British artist who specializes in archaeological reconstruction drawings. We know this artist from previous work on Statia and asked him about making three drawings for the Terramar Museum. His drawings are really nice and with the information we will give, he can visualize a large part of the story that we want to tell. We walked through the museum one more time to envision where all our artefacts, images and text would be displayed and noticed that they started renovating the interior. Hopefully they will make a lot of progress in the coming weeks. I’m sure we will have a great museum this year and I can’t wait for the doors to open. Hopefully some of you will be able to come and see it with your own eyes!

Building a museum on Bonaire

An example of Caribbean efficiency: 24 hours after hearing that I could travel to Bonaire, I landed on this beautiful island! It is my first visit, and so far, I’m loving every moment of it. Testing the waters and diving will definitely be part of my trip, but the main reason for my visit might actually be even more exciting than that.
This week is a very important week for the Terramar Museum. For four days straight, we have meetings with the designers and builders of the exhibit and the architect of the building. We are deciding, based on input of all parties, all facets of the museum; the content of the exhibit, what route the visitor will walk, what messages we want to convey, what artefacts will be displayed, how we are going to make use of the space in front of the museum and how we will accommodate all the visitors that will want to enjoy our museum. All big decisions, and all decisions that will affect a lot of plans and ideas in the future!
Yesterday, it was the first day I saw the building. The location is ideal; right behind the first row of shops on the boulevard, right at the location where the cruise ships land. The historic building will be restored, but walking in the rooms and main hall, I started the visualize everything. I had seen photos, but actually going through the doors, walking up the stairs and experiencing the building is a totally different thing. And it was a positive one; the building was much bigger than I anticipated, the rooms were more spacious and with the plans of the architect in mind I visualized a beautiful building with lots and lots of potential. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, but it is totally energizing to see all these great things happen.
For the exhibition, we are working together with Northernlight and Bruns, both renowned companies in designing and building musea and exhibits all around the world. These days have been extremely helpful and together we’re building great plans. Ruud and I formulate the content of the exhibit, summarizing the scientific knowledge that we have about the Caribbean’s past. Northernlight uses the information and transforms it into something that people enjoy reading or seeing. Our plan is not to just give people ‘dry’ facts and information, but to engage the visitor, trigger them to interact with the content of the exhibit and make them think of the museum after they walk out of the last door. We are designing projections on maps, working with light and sound, thinking of miniature villages that display episodes of daily life and interpretation drawings that cover large walls. With all these crazy ideas and concepts, we turn to Bruns who nods and confirms that they can build it.
These are longs days. There is not too much time for discussing these big topics and making such important decisions. On the other hand, I am totally stoked about this project and it just gives me a lot of energy. It’s also a good experience, as designers and builders have a totally different point of view, bringing new solutions (and problems!) to the floor. I learned about maximum capacity of visitors we could handle, how to design a walk-route and many other details I never thought about. Real hands-on experience in building a museum from the start. It’s a unique, probably once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
I’ll keep you posted!