The Museum of Belize is turning nine this weekend. The MOB is one of the main attractions for tourists in the city, but most importantly it is the place where Belizean history is recorded. The former Her Majesty’s Prison is where the only woman was executed and where the last hanging took place in Belize. In latter years the building was transformed into the Museum of Belize. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
Inside the ‘London Stocked’ walls of the Museum of Belize is a treasure-trove of information on the Jewel’s storied colonial past. This antiquated building which stands as a relic of early twentieth century architecture is also a shrine of the many historic pieces contained within the onetime prison. The penitentiary existed singularly, during a different era, prior to becoming a gallery now frequented by visitors.
Shauniece Heusner, Education Officer, Museum of Belize
“In 1993… Her Majesty’s Prison was evacuated and the prisoners were housed in the Hattieville Prison and in 1998 the Government of Belize took over the building and they refurbished it. This took about two years. In 2002 they had the inauguration and opened the building as the Museum of Belize.”
The Museum of Belize is home to many permanent displays including a Belizean flag that was recovered from the rubble of the Twin Towers in New York City a few weeks after 911. Others are part of a massive family collection that spans decades.
“A lot of the pieces were or are on loan from Ms. Alice Craig and the Craig family. However, we do have some pieces that the Belizean citizens have donated to us. If you would look into the gallery on the right you’ll find some of those pieces.”
Among those items are an assortment of old clothing irons, from coal to steam, as well as shaving sets and outdated radios that visually depict the days of old.
“We accept, all the time we accept any donations from anybody so they can drop off at the museum and we will proudly display it. Upstairs we have the collection from archaeology, the Maya pieces here on display as well.”
On Saturday the exhibition hall will celebrate its ninth anniversary by opening its doors to the public at no cost.
“We will be having some activities and giveaways. There will be all the exhibits on display and Belizeans will have a chance to come in free, free entry. And we also have a gift shop that is fully stocked and prepared for Valentine’s Day so you can buy your souvenirs and mementos.”
Beyond the ‘oohs and ahs’ of a fully stocked local gift shop is the feedback the museum has gotten from tourists upon learning that within these prison walls turned showrooms several convicted murderers have been given the noose.
“The most shocking news is that the size of the cells. They’re not use to the small cells [that held] about eight or nine guys in it. Also the corporal punishment that usually amuses them, the hanging factor as well as the flogging.”
The Museum of Belize will be open from 9 a.m. on Saturday and will remain open until two in the afternoon for interested persons wishing to be a part of the celebration. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.
So if you have time, drop in at the museum and catch part of our history.