On Saturday afternoon the public is
invited to the official reopening of a

building that, from its stately perch
on the Belize City foreshore, has
witnessed many of the major events
in Belize's colourful history. News
5's
Patrick Jones managed to beat the
crowd with an advanced tour.

Patrick Jones, Reporting
Walking through Government House is like stepping back
two
centuries in time. Built in 1814, the structure has
proven its
strength. And while Governors named Despard, Burns, and
Garvey have long vacated the premises, the new occupants
are giving Belizeans a previously unavailable peek into
the inner
sanctum of this once off limits institution. Director of
the House
of Culture, Lita Krohn, says that by studying what went
on here
we can learn much about where we may be headed.

Lita Krohn, Director, House of Culture
"Yeah, because it's our history. Whether it's good, bad,
or ugly
it's your history. Some people are offended by the
prison; well
that's what happened. Perhaps if we're mindful of maybe
colonialism and its evils, then we don't want any
neo-colonialism and its evils, or the domination of one
group
over another group. The fact that later on Marcus Garvey
visited here in the 1920s, Cassius Clay visited here. So
now all
of us will be able to visit. Upstairs it's recital and
rentals of
those places. Downstairs you pay a minimum to go and see
the
exhibitions."

The displays will include an artful mix of past and
present
photographs and other items that are inextricably linked
to the
nation's development from colony to nationhood.

Lita Krohn
"This is a historic exhibition. And we have how
Government
House was built, some documents about Government House,
built in 1815. Although one of the documents says 1815
and
the picture says built 1814. There is a little
discrepancy there.
We have shots of refurbishments from way back then, this
is
not the first refurbishment. We have a shot of the whole
of
Belize City, cycloramic bird's eye view of Belize British

Honduras 1899. Barry Bowen's print shop was kind enough
to
donate that to us. And then we have shots of government
house before hurricane '31, after hurricane '31, before
Hurricane Hattie, after hurricane Hattie. We have Keith;
that
tree broke down the front façade."

Plate ware for big dinner parties. It has the insignia of
the
queen, all over it: Elizabeth Regina, E.R. Wine glasses,
sherry
glasses, port glasses, dessert, coffee, little egg
holders. I
suppose ice cream, something for cake, of course the tea,
very
important aspect of English colonialism, all the silver
and
trappings of tea and diner. Very nice."

The adjacent wall will feature photographs of past
administrators and governors, along with newspaper
clippings
of historical events.

Lita Krohn
"A treaty was the treaty of Belize 1853 and other very
important meetings took place. This one was in 1884. Here
you
have the tour of a governor in the districts, Benque
Viejo. Sir
Alan Burns on a visit to Punta Gorda. We found this in
the
archives, first family of the land; this is Garvey,
Governor
Garvey. He is very well known for having been the
governor of
devaluation. There he is, which 1949, which spurred the
beginning of the People's Committee and then the People's

United Party as a result."

But the history of Belize is not only the story of
politics.

Lita Krohn
"We're trying to present here visual arts of Belize from
1950 to
2003. So we'll have like Teryl from early artist. This is
Carolyn
Carr, Nelson Young, Walter Castillo, Norris Hall. There
is a Lita
Krohn, Manuel Villamor, Michael Gordon, Percival Cain,
the
great Belisle, Rachel Heusner."

And these are only on the ground floor.

Lita Krohn
"Everyone is impressed with this beautiful, one gorgeous
staircase, mahogany. So all this has been refurbished."

Patrick Jones
"This is a part of the original décor of the building?"

Lita Krohn
"Yeah, yes it is. This used to be a bedroom; I am not
sure
which one used to be master, which one was not. This is
now a
multi-visual room, air conditioned for press briefings,
press
conferences. The room next door is a conference room that

will be rented."

Patrick Jones
"Do you think that giving Belizeans access to this
building and
some of the major decisions made here, do you think that
will
help us appreciate more or Belizeaness?"

Lita Krohn
"Any part of history, whether it's slavery, enriches us.
The less
we know about our country, the poorer off we are
individually.
For example, I just found out that emancipation
celebrations
were held in this garden. The Mosquito Kings that were
crowned in the 1850s, 1825s, around then from St. John's
Cathedral, they held their receptions here. So there is
all kind
of things that if these walls could speak they'd be
telling us a
lot of things. And that just enriches you. It doesn't
mean you
have to be a worshiper of colonialism to like this
house."

Patrick Jones, for News 5.

Visitors to Government House pay a five dollars fee.
Schools that make advanced bookings enter for free, and
students with I.D. pay two dollars. Krohn says the money
goes towards the upkeep of the building. The renovations
to the House of Culture were carried out at a cost of
eight
hundred thousand dollars by the Mexican firm of Bufete
Delta under the supervision of Strukture Architects of
Belize. Saturday's public opening begins at one, with a
traditional Taiwanese puppet show at four-thirty.