Fundacion Museo Arubano: custodian of local culture

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ORANJESTAD — With the adaptation and revision of Fundacion Museo Arubano (FMA) in 2015 an important new chapter was initiated in the history of this institution. This revision and expansion allowed for an additional impetus to this organization that up to this point had directed the Historical Museum located in Fort Zoutman (Oranjestad). For FMA it has always been an honor and great responsibility to follow in the footsteps of those that had this mission at heart and contributed for decades to the preservation of these monuments and acquisition of collections in order to inform and inspire the Aruban public through exhibits and displays within these structures.

Today we can proudly announce that our foundation consists of three museums: namely, Historical Museum, Industry Museum (San Nicolas), Community Museum (San Nicolas), and an exhibit space Carnival Euphoria which will eventually become the Carnival Museum (San Nicolas) . Furthermore, we have set as our goal, to expand the structure of FMA in order to accommodate even more museums within this structure, thus facilitating our mission in relation to cultural and natural heritage of the island.

One aspect that has played an important role in recent years of rapid development on the island is the idea of value, where we can observe a distinct difference when we speak of economic value and cultural value. With economic value we automatically think in monetary terms and exchange of goods.

However, when speaking of cultural value, we are addressing certain qualities that possess a much deeper meaning. Values, that cannot be translated into monetary transactions, but are nonetheless important and beneficial to the general well-being and sense of value of a whole community. Our museums want to play a key role in order to accentuate this cultural value and help connect the general public with it. There are important aspects that become essential in this mission; for example aspects such as the diffusion of knowledge, academic research, conservation of material and immaterial culture, as well as achieving a balance between focus on objects and focus on audience.

The rapid pace of development and the effects of globalization have positioned museums once more in a position where local cultural awareness, authenticity, and the attraction of audiences become crucial.

Museums can no longer be passive and are obligated to re-examine their position and role amongst the community they represent, thus becoming true catalyst for social and cultural change. Furthermore, our museums will play an essential role in this new scenario where the role of museum directors and curators has shifted from the usual focus on collect, preserve, and interpret to a focus on enlighten, inspire and attract (audience).

Fundacion Museo Arubano has embarked on a reinvigorated mission that positions our cultural heritage at a central position within the Aruba experience. By achieving this, it can become a model within the region, activating cultural heritage in a participatory and audience based manner. By forging strategic local as well as international partnerships, FMA aims to position the island of Aruba as a significant player when it comes to cultural heritage and in this way become a true cultural destination. A long overdue homage to the many blessings our ancestors have entrusted us with. Q