The Museum of St. Helena
St. Helena Museum: A Treasure Trove of Island History
In 1854, a peculiar collection, including a sea serpent and a flying lizard, marked the genesis of what we now know as the Museum of St. Helena. Over the next century, multiple small museums sprung up across the island, each cherishing its unique assortments. One such repository was situated within Plantation House, exhibiting remnants of Napoleon's residence at Longwood. Eventually, Longwood House itself morphed into a standalone museum, narrating its own historical tale.
A New Era: The Birth of the St. Helena Heritage Society
The true blossoming of the Museum of St. Helena, however, began in November 1979 with the establishment of the St. Helena Heritage Society. This marked the inception of an organized effort to celebrate and preserve the island's rich heritage. On 23rd May 1980, the Heritage Society unveiled a museum at Broadway House, and thus, a new chapter in the island's history began.
Over the subsequent two decades, the museum's collection burgeoned, outgrowing the confines of Broadway House. The assortment became cluttered, and managing the growing treasure trove became a challenge. This led to the establishment of a new museum appeal and the acquisition of the Old Power House building in Lower Jamestown, nestled next to the iconic Jacob's Ladder.
The Guardians of St. Helena's Legacy
The Museum of St. Helena plays a critical role in the stewardship of the island's sensitive historical items. Working within limited financial resources, it ensures the proper curation and preservation of these treasures on behalf of the community. The museum also boasts an extensive archive, both physical and digital, housing images, videos, and documents—all chronicling the island's rich heritage.
Envisioning a Cultural Centre for St. Helena
The future holds exciting possibilities for the Museum of St. Helena. Plans are underway to incorporate the adjacent building, the former PWD Store, into a broader cultural centre. This establishment would not only house the museum but also include a library and archives. It promises to be a vibrant hub for the preservation and celebration of the heritage of the island of St. Helena.
What is St Helena famous for?St. Helena is famous for its rich history, most notably as the place of Napoleon Bonaparte's exile and death. It's also known for its biodiversity, stunning landscapes, and the welcoming nature of its residents, known as "Saints".
Why do tourists visit St Helena?Tourists are drawn to St Helena for its unique history, distinctive wildlife, and dramatic landscapes. The island offers ample opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, bird watching, diving, and stargazing. The local culture, heritage sites, and the chance to visit Napoleon's final residence are also significant attractions.
How do you visit St Helena?St Helena can be reached via the St Helena Airport. Regular flights are available from Johannesburg, South Africa. Alternatively, one can also reach the island by sea, with several cruise ships stopping at St Helena as part of their South Atlantic itinerary.
What happened to St Helena?St Helena remains a thriving and vibrant British Overseas Territory. It continues to develop its infrastructure, including a relatively new airport, and is focusing on boosting tourism while preserving its rich history and natural environment.
Can anyone go to St Helena Island?Yes, anyone can visit St Helena. However, all visitors need to apply for an Entry Permit or a Short Term Visit Visa before travelling. It's also advised to have travel insurance that covers medical evacuation, due to the island's remote location.
Is St Helena expensive to visit?The cost of visiting St Helena depends on various factors such as the cost of flights, accommodation, meals, and activities. While it might be more expensive than some other destinations due to its remote location, the unique experiences and rich history it offers make it a worthwhile destination.
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