Heritage Trust and London Museum partner on restoration project

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The Heritage Trust of Antigua and Barbuda (HTAB) and the London Museum Docklands have joined efforts to progress the historical Government House Restoration Project. The aim of this collaboration is to explore the synergies between the West Indies and the United Kingdom, and their story of “sugar and the enslaved”, as the narrative progresses “from slavery to emancipation to independence”.
Douglas Gilmore, Managing Director of the London Museum Docklands and Jean-Francois Manicom, Senior Curator, visited Antigua last week as guests of the HTAB. The experts engaged in preliminary historical research and cultural fact-finding as a precursory step to the development of the chronicles.
While on island, Gilmore and Manicom held discussions with various industry and academic luminaries including Professor Justin Robinson (Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal, UWI Five Islands), Dr.Susan Lowes, Dr.Reginald Murphy and Dr.Christopher Waters. In addition, they met with representatives of the Horticultural Society of Antigua and Barbuda, Historic Furniture Restorers, Historic Upholstery and island history savant Ms. Agnes Meeker, among others.
At a cocktail party held at Government House on March 1st, guests were addressed by HTAB Project Manager, Mrs. Janey Henderson-Howell; HTAB Director, Sir David Harrison; and Chairman of HTAB, H.E. Sir Rodney Williams.
Sir Rodney said, “The Government House Restoration Project holds immense significance, aiming to transform this historical two-acre landmark, the People’s House, into an impressive heritage venue with a museum and art gallery. Government House stands as an architectural symbol, with the West Wing preserving one of the last known remaining slave quarters in the Eastern Caribbean.”
Director Henderson-Howell issued a call to action, encouraging the attendees to either loan or donate any artefacts, which would be placed on display for the benefit of the entire nation.
Sir David Harrison said that he was pleased to be involved with the Government House project. He stressed that not only would the physical property be revamped, but the training of Antiguans and Barbudans in conservation and restoration, and the creation of meaningful jobs, were high on the agenda.
At both the cocktail party and an exclusive donor’s appreciation dinner held two days earlier, guests were given the opportunity to tour Government House, inclusive of the upstairs chambers, and to view old paintings of royalty. Also on exhibit was the Parham Prince painting collection donated by Nancy Underhills, interesting pieces of crockery from the 1700’s unearthed from the grounds of Government House, and other important relics — including antique pots, aged rum kegs and fragile water jars.
The London Museum Docklands will present a report to the HTAB which will, in turn, provide direction on the historical narrative.
The first phase of “Operation Restoration “ was funded by the Calvin Ayre Foundation, the Mill Reef Club and Sir David Harrison, with the second phase scheduled to commence in April 2024.
Photo caption:
Sen. Hon. Kiz Nathaniel, Mrs. Janey Henderson-Howell, Sir David Harrison, Mr. Hendren Parker, H.E. Lady Williams. H.E. Sir Rodney Williams, Ms. Gabriella Howell, Lady Harrison and H.E. Karen-Mae Hill.
H.E. Sir Rodney Williams. Mr. David Latchimy , General Manager of Sandals Grande, Mr. Jean-Francois Manicom and Mr. Douglas Gilmore (both from the Museum of London Docklands).
H.E. Lady Williams and Mr. Paddy Simon
Gabriella Howell and Janey Henderson-Howell stand by a Government House painting to be restored.
Permanent Secretary Mrs Paula Hunte leads a tour of Government House.
High Commissioner H.E. Karen-Mae Hill with Ambassador H.E. Boris Latour.
H.E. Sir Rodney Williams with Sir David Harrison