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National museum launches multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign

Elena Strong, of the National Museum of Bermuda (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A multimillion-dollar fundraising drive has been launched to revive and renovate the National Museum of Bermuda.

It is hoped that The Future of History Campaign will attract at least $8.5 million to support education programmes, development projects and the stability of the attraction.

A spokeswoman said: “Enhancements to these core areas will benefit Bermuda educators, students, and lifelong learners and expand the museum's influence locally and globally.”

She added that $8.2 million was already raised after a “quiet phase” of the campaign, which started in 2019 when the museum’s board of trustees, members, corporate partners and others became involved to secure commitments and build momentum.

It is hoped that the initial target can be passed over the next three months.

Elena Strong, the museum’s executive director, said: "At NMB, we are accelerating our role as an educational resource for our community.

“The Future of History Campaign is helping us transform how history is shared and whose stories are brought to light.

“Our expansion efforts capitalise on our existing assets as we plan to establish an international research hub that will bring innovation and vitality to Dockyard, positioning the museum as a thought leader in Atlantic World research.”

She added: “The past two years have shown how history and culture can keep us connected and the importance of knowing our past to understand the present and build a better future.

“Our campaign goals will ensure that the future of NMB is bright.”

A spokeswoman said that the museum will keep looking for backing from sources such as foundations and the NMB’s community of supporters.

She added: “We are inviting the participation of everyone on island and beyond who has enjoyed the museum, benefited from our programmes and is excited about our vision for the future.”

The spokeswoman said: “The National Museum of Bermuda serves as one of the island's leading educational resources sharing Bermuda's diverse history, culture and heritage.

“Through exhibits, programmes, publications, collections and historic structures, NMB offers insights into a range of diverse topics, including Bermuda's cultural links with the West Indies and the Azores, enslavement in Bermuda, Bermuda's defence heritage, shipwrecks and early Bermuda settlement, the building of Dockyard and much more.

“Now, it is transforming into a collective voice for and about everyone in Bermuda.”

She added that the campaign was designed to help take the museum into “a new era”.

Sustained funding for education will mean that free, pilot education programmes, such as courses for teachers’ professional development, early years education and lessons for older students, can be offered permanently

The spokeswoman said: “These programmes promote critical and creative thinking, seeing multiple perspectives, and deepen understanding of Bermuda’s diverse past.”

Money raised is to help the NMB deliver “critically-needed exhibit updates to ensure everyone finds their story” and that the island’s history is “framed in an Atlantic World lens”.

A new learning centre will be set up in the museum’s Shifting House, from 1837.

The campaign will also help to “incorporate digital technology and infrastructure improvements that will breathe new life into the museum’s historic buildings”.

Katie Bennett, an advancement officer at the NMB, said: “Thanks to our incredible donors, partners and members, the museum has effectively navigated this turbulent period, fostered meaningful connections in Bermuda and beyond, and has grown stronger.

“Join us to accelerate this important work by supporting The Future of History.”

A campaign brochure showed that funding priorities were to invest $3.5 million in each education and expansion and a further $1.5 million in operational stability.

Developments at the site are expected to include work to stabilise and save the barracks and Upper Ordnance buildings at Casemates for future use.

The spokeswoman said that a “robust business plan” is to be funded “to ensure sustainability for a future home of Atlantic World studies: a research hub that will enable local students to pursue higher education, Atlantic World research and new career opportunities”.

Janet Ferguson, the NMB education committee chairwoman, who is also a board member and campaign cochairwoman, said: "Supporting the National Museum – to preserve the past and strengthen our future – is a gift to Bermuda and a gift to ourselves."

The museum spokeswoman added: “NMB is building on our solid track record of visionary preservation, academic research and nearly 50 years of local and international partnerships.

“Through The Future of History Campaign we are growing our education programmes, expanding our learning spaces to include Casemates and building organisational stability.”

She said: “We are not only building programming, but we are also re-envisioning learning spaces and committing to a permanent home for learning at NMB to welcome learners of all ages.”

The spokeswoman explained that the Shifting House learning centre will have three areas on the inside as well as an outdoor classroom.

She added: “Museum staff and partners will offer hands-on learning connected to museum objects and exhibits.

“Tactile, fun and play-based experiences will promote curiosity in our youngest learners.

“For school groups, Bermuda history will come alive.”

To learn more about the campaign, visit www.nmb.bm/campaign

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Published March 28, 2022 at 9:27 am (Updated March 28, 2022 at 10:44 am)

National museum launches multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign

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