Thursday, July 22, 2010

Last Astrolabe

I have just completed the copy edits on my last issue of the Astrolabe, the National Museum's popular history newsletter. I am including the text from the Director's Log here. I have served as editor of the newsletter, which is issued four times a year as part of the Times of the Island magazine, for the three years I have been in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I have tried to theme every issue so that the articles have reinforced our collections and fundraising initiatives. I have had a strategy that everything we have done has had three legs; a program component, that moves into a pubic relations component, that moves into a fundraising component. The popular history articles have been well researched and received by the public, but it is the additional support they have provided to this strategic initiative that I am proud of.

Director's Log

This will be my last issue of the Astrolabe and my last Director's Log. I have been on Grand Turks for three years already. That is hard to believe. It has been my pleasure to serve the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Though more than half of my tenure here has been dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the time spent has not been without its accomplishments.

I have had a strategic goal of raising the profile of the museum and that has been very successful. We have completed major projects such as the Search for the Trouvadore, the Fort George Archaeological Survey, and the GT4 Taino Site Archaeological Survey. We have made an effort to mount short term exhibits on Provo, such as the 1999 “Our Islands, Our Heritage” Children's Art contest entries, the display of the Fort George artifacts at Island Wise, and the Community Art Mural project. These can all be read about in past issues of the Astrolabe. We have reached out to the people of Providenciales to move forward with Museum's plans to build a museum there. I believe this has been embraced, and we now have our first fundraising/development committee established on Provo.

The museum operation on Grand Turk has grown from 2,671 visitors in 2007 to a projected 14,000 visitors in 2010. We have trained an engaging staff and have developed engaging cruise ship excursion tours. Part of this dramatic increase is owed to new positive reviews in Frommer's travel guide, the Lonely Planet travel guide, and The development of a new $20 behind the scenes tour has expanded the visitor options at the museum and has created a great experience for people who really like museums.

The Children's Club program, established by Nigel Sadler, has been expanded and is now funded from the sales of the award winning children's book Where Is Simon, Sandy? One of our signature programs has been the Afterschool Homework Program, a program funded for the last two years by a Pine Cay Project grant. Through this program we have had 28% of the upper level high school and community college students on Grand Turk come to the museum to complete research and work on school projects.

Through a variety of grants, we have also been able to augment our professional staff and have been able to spend a year focused on cleaning, housing, and cataloging our archival holdings, as well as implement a new museum software database, create an organized, searchable library, and a new electronic membership database.

My time here has not been without its sacrifices. Owing to the damage to Grand Turk, we made the tough decision to move my wife and children back to the United States after the hurricanes of September 2008. This became a two year commitment to live separated in order to get our oldest son through high school and into college. And though I think he never listens to me, he is following in my footsteps and will be attending a school of architecture outside of Chicago.

We have enjoyed our time. I hope that we have made a difference. I hope that the programs we have started are sustained and that the museum continues to move forward. I hope that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands continue to support the advancement of the museum and fund a new museum for Providenciales. It will be your greatest legacy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Plein air

Today we did plein air painting for our Children's Club program. This is French for painting outside. We had a visiting artist come lecture briefly about this technique and then we walked down the street with 30 plus children to paint on the beach.

I could not believe how attentive our kids have been to the art programs we are doing this year. We are focusing every week on a local art. We had 30 children age 8to 14 sitting on a beach sketching and then painting with water colors. For nearly an hour there was not a sound.

And then...

Well we are on an island and it has been extremely hot this month. What to you want, a little plein water swimming?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Diving on the Bohio Wreck

For the last three weeks Lucas, Davis, and I have been shore diving out to the Bohio Wreck to measure the wrecking site. This, I guess is one of the perks of running a maritime history museum. You can make your children measure shipwrecks.

I think this was our last time, we should have enough info to make a drawing.

This certainly is not my expertise and we have not documented the site perfectly. it is way, way, way harder to measure out an underwater wreck. I can do historic buildings like nobodies business, but underwater is a totally different skill set.

The CAD drawing will be no problem at least.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chillin in the Pool

We are back on GT and at the museum today. But we are still thinking about our weekend on Provo. Nice pool.

The Grace Bay Club is supposed to be one of the nicest hotels on Provo. Guest services was wonderful when we checked in. The room was very nice with a large complimentary fruit plate and champagne already set up in your room.

The restaurant has an infinity bar which is advertised all over as being one of the coolest places to hang out on the island.We had a great weekend, spent mostly in the room.

I have tried to stay at a variety of resorts on Provo in order get an idea of facilities and to meet people. I had thought that a series of small teaser exhibits might work well at these facilities and that there could be some kind of program between the hotels and a new museum on Provo. My conclusion, however, is that this proves to be more difficult than I had originally thought and that the systems of management and personnel do not lend themselves to outside partnerships.

I have developed conclusions about the hotels here, though. Nikki Beach was the best hotel, it had the nicest staff, the best pool, and best restaurant on the island. We are very sorry that it is closed. I also preferred the Veranda as far as the room and amenities. The beach bar at Seven Stars is the nicest small bar on Provo. The best stretch of beach on Grace Bay is probably right outside the Royal West Indies.

So goes our stays at the various resorts on Provo. I don't know if we will ever be back. We had this conversation at the museum today. But if a friend hooks us up with rooms at the Veranda again, I think I would be back in a heartbeat!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Grace Bay Club

This weekend Deneen and I are staying at the Grace Bay Club. This was a package that we bid on at the Museum fundraiser on March 20. This is in all likelihood our last visit to Provo.

The intent was to spend a nice weekend, but I have been running around saying goodbye to some friends here and taking care of some projects. I have taken down two art exhibits that I have had up for the last few months.

Before we left Grand Turk I scanned and printed several large format images from the Molasses Reef Wreck archaeology project which was completed in 1982. I used our very, very nice room as a makeshift workshop and mounted these images as one last temporary exhibit if it is needed.

Wrapping up will be wrapped up tomorrow. And then back to Grand Turk.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sailing Trip to South Caicos Last Month

Last Month I caught a ride over to South Caicos with Bob Gascoine. This is us sailing off into the sunset.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Booby Rock

Yesterday evening we went down to White Sands Beach and Booby Rock, the southern most point of Grand Turk. This is a nice stretch of beach not visited by many people. This reef was one of the first places that we snorkeled on Grand Turk.

Deneen got totally freaked out has not really ever snorkeled here since then. Lucas looked out at the reef and commented, "It's hard to believe that mom thought this was scary, its nothing compared to what we do now!"

That is kind of the truth, seeing as we just swam to the wall with Jacob a couple weeks ago and we have gone all the way to the wreck of the Harold three times now.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th

Today is July 4th. Now, this should make sense, but July 4th is not celebrated in England or in any of the existing overseas territories, which are basically colonial possessions.

July 4th is a celebration that I would say is uniquely American. But this is not correct. We are in the Americas. It is unique to the United States of America.

Today, we did nothing. Deneen has not felt well. We got up late. Then we took a nap. Then we sat around watching videos.

I actually even wish I could write more, but alas, I can't even really tell you what I have done. And the day is over.