by Jonathan A Hanna, PhD, RPA
Adapted from the 2012-16 GNM Strategy by J Angus Martin (2012)
Executive Summary and Introduction: A New Direction
Plans are worthless, but planning is everything – Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Grenada National Museum (GNM), though in existence for the past 45 years, remains in a very rudimentary state due, in part, to limited financial and technical resources. Despite attempts at intervening over these years, little progress has been made.
In 2012, incoming Director J Angus Martin drew up a strategic plan based on his (and others) assessments of where the Museum needed to go (Martin 2012). He got about halfway through before those changes unnerved the old guard enough to have him removed and (literally) locked out of the building. Nevertheless, he left an indelible mark on the GNM, and many of the plans below are simply updates to the vision he put forward a decade ago. In 2017, the Government of Grenada (GOG) finally stepped up and intervened. The Museum Act was passed, and by the start of 2019, the GOG had taken control. But as of this writing, most of the Act has yet to be implemented.
Paraphrasing Part II, Section 4(1) of the National Museum Act (2017), the four core functions of the GNM are:
- Administer a museum network: “to establish, operate, administer, and oversee museums in the State of Grenada” (subsection a);
- Manage the National Collection: “to secure, receive, preserve, hold, and display specimens, artefacts, and other materials that illustrate the natural or human history of Grenada…[and] to maintain and provide access to the National Collection in accordance with the National Collections Policy” (subsections b, c);
- Provide public education: “to serve as an educational organization…. to increase and communicate knowledge of the natural and human history of Grenada by research, exhibits, publications, and other means” (subsections d, e);
- Create exhibits from that Collection: “to develop exhibits that are of interest to the public…. [and] perform all other functions usually performed by a museum” (subsections f, g).
Despite the basic nature of these functions, Grenada has never had an institution do all these things. But it’s entirely possible. Under the management of a new Director and trained staff members, the GNM could become a major player in the preservation and interpretation of our natural and cultural heritage. It would be an interesting attraction to residents and visitors, a valuable educational resource to students and scholars, and a point of national pride and identity. And indeed, the accurate restoration of the Museum’s revivalist Georgian/Victorian architecture would provide a model for historic restoration throughout Grenada.
Since the Act’s passage, some things have been accomplished, but much remains in abeyance. This manuscript provides a plan for implementing an entirely new direction for the GNM. Initially based on Martin’s (2012) Strategic Plan (including general directions and floorplans) much has been revised, updated, and expanded, focusing on the core missions of the GNM in collections management, public education, and museum administration.
A summary table of tasks is presented at the beginning, with references to the pertinent section of the Plan. This document can serve as a reference for each critical decision to be made over the next few years. The new floor plans (p. 13) are especially important, but before even that can be done, we must first replace all the roofs (and repave the main courtyard) before anything else (p. 10) — it makes no sense to fix the inside when rain is pouring in from the outside.
While this Plan is thorough, it is still more of an outline of a vision. It lacks many details that will need to be completed prior to each task and will need to be updated as time passes (e.g., each exhibit requires a careful plan of what artefacts, text, and images are to be used for each display). But as we approach the GNM’s 50th anniversary in April 2026, it is the author’s hope that the GNM will finally embody its title as a truly national institution and the premier resource for Grenada’s natural and cultural heritage. The document herein offers a route for how this can be accomplished.
The full Development Plan can be read here.