Twenty-four years ago, Monuments Fund Aruba (SMFA) was funded with the goal to purchase, restore and maintain monumental buildings of Aruba. The first project SMFA financed was the restoration of the City Hall and the Ex Hotel Colombia. After twenty-four years SMFA currently owns thirteen monumental buildings and three objects.
These last years they have been focusing on maintenance. The Fund is very proud as foundation that their monuments are in a very good condition and are part of city walks but are also more and more becoming the protagonist of photography’s shared around the world. They also contribute to the expansion of knowledge about Aruban Heritage with educational programs but also organizing activities like Wiki Loves Monuments Aruba and Fiesta di Cunucu to connect the community to our monuments.
With a team of seven guided by their boar, they work together to preserve the past for the future and face all the challenges they find on the way.
As a foundation SMFA has faced some challenges through these years. For more than ten years they have not been subsidized by the government anymore making the organization fully dependent on their rent income. Thanks to their renters, being either Government of Aruba or private partners they have been able to keep preserving our monuments all these years. This year SMFA has had their biggest challenge yet. The crisis did not only affect them but the whole community. But they have chosen to face these challenges with positivism and go on with the projects that were already planned before the crisis. SMFA has been able to put seven projects on the fast track projects list of the government in order to help create jobs and stimulate the economy.
Despite existing for 24 years SMFA still get excited with each new project. No matter if it’s the lime kiln in Rancho or the first pharmacy of Aruba, they make sure to execute every project according to the rules of the Monuments bureau. Each new restoration projects bring their own challenges with it but the biggest challenge is the repurposing of the buildings. For example, they have the Water towers in San Nicolas and Oranjestad that were originally built as a water tower but are now an office and museum. They are also currently working on the feasibility study for the water tanks at Kibaima to repurpose the tanks as space for innovative agriculture, office or horeca. Another project that will be starting soon is the Ex Botica Aruba. This building was built in 1925 by Addison Croes and together with his friend Gustave Nouel they started the first pharmacy of Aruba. The stories behind each monument is an added value to them. This is the reason why SMFA has been focusing also on research of the history of each new restoration project.
All protected monuments on the island are property of either the government of Aruba or SMFA.
The government has been working these past years on the protection of private monuments.
Meanwhile SMFA has been working on a Revolving Fund. The goal is to subsidize or offer low interest loans to owners of private protected monuments in the future to help them preserve their monuments.
Another important factor in the success of Monuments Fund Aruba through these years is the cooperation and contacts with local and international, commercial and financial organizations. No matter if its for a low interest loan or a donation to SMFA’s restoration or educational projects they can always count on the cooperation of different organizations. They also have a good communication with different organizations on the heritage field around the world. SMFA attend different conventions and have in various occasions been approached to speak about their experience as a monument’s foundation. In 2015 the Dutch Caribbean Heritage platform has been funded by the Dutch Caribbean islands to work together on funding of projects and knowledge exchange. Locally they also work in cooperation with different organizations on the cultural and heritage field and have been honored to have volunteers who are always ready to help.
For those who are interested in becoming a volunteer or need some advice on how to restore their monumental house or building or if interested to rent a monument, they can always contact SMFA at firstname.lastname@example.org.