Curator arrives for Ambergris Museum

Peter Laws

by Lydia Chuc

The services of Mr. Peter Laws, a Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) member, have been obtained by the the Board of Directors of the Ambergris Historical Society to execute the final plans and design details of the museum's exhibits. He will also act as the museum's curator. Mr. Laws has been a museum curator in several museums in England for past 15 years. "I wanted to do something different so I applied to the VSO. At first I didn't think VSO would have a need for someone with my background but after a few months, in June of last year, I heard about this museum in Belize and, well, here I am."

Mr. Laws will be in Belize for a year and hopes to complete the final details needed to open the museum. "They've done a wonderful job so far and have collected many things. A lot has been put in place but they need to take the final step. The Archæology Department has agreed to have the exhibits here, and the interior, especially the exhibit design details of the museum, needs to be finished off. You just can't place an exhibit in a glass case; you've got to figure out in which position to place the item and on what sort of a platform it will be mounted. The exhibits will be about the caye and its heritage, focusing on linking San Pedro from the time of the Mayans to modern times. The sea has been considered as a possible theme. It has always been and it is what links the past to present day San Pedro. Some displays will be centered around the Mayans, shipwrecks, the fishing and coconut industries, modern times and the local community."

Along with the artifacts from local Mayan sites, many antique items have been donated or lent to the museum. There are two brass candle sticks which may be over 150 years old, according to Mr. Laws. Another fine antique piece on loan to the museum is a three piece set of Mexican weapons consisting of a sword, dagger and a knife. "Donated pieces are an important aspect of the museum. People can loan us things from more recent times. Items that tell about the San Pedro of 50 years ago are just as interesting and important as items from 500 years ago." Another hindrance to the museum's opening is the lack of sufficient funds needed to carry out the finishing touches. The Ambergris Historical Society welcomes any financial assistance the public can offer. "What they are trying to do is very ambitious and they don't want it to be done in just any manner, it's to be done right. And to do it right takes money."

Visitors to the museum will have access to souvenirs and craftwork which will be on sale inside the museum. Interactive computers will also be available for those who wish to gain added insight into past and present San Pedro. "It is important to preserve San Pedro; the people must remember their roots and respect the history of the Mayan people. We should protect the Mayan sites from looting and teach others to respect them. What the board has done so far with the museum is very impressive. Locals are expecting something to happen soon; I'm here to make sure it does."

The Ambergris Historical Society would like to thank the San Pedro Town Board for helping financially with Mr. Laws' boarding expenses while he is here in San Pedro.

Those who wish to contribute financially, lend or donate items for display may contact Lliani Paz at 2298 during normal working hours.

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