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World Heritage Centre closes doors for the last time

World Heritage Centre (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The St George’s Foundation vowed yesterday to continue to tell the story of Bermuda’s history despite the closure of the World Heritage Centre.

The foundation will lock the doors of the Queen’s Warehouse at Penno’s Wharf – the former home of the WHC – and hand the keys back to the Corporation of St George tomorrow after 18 years of operation.

But an SGF spokesman said the foundation would continue to work with the Department of Parks and the Bermuda National Trust as part of its Heritage Preservation programme, which features virtual lectures and outdoor excursions.

The spokesman added it also planned to launch a Unesco World Heritage Site educational programme focused on East End schools and community organisations.

He said: “The decision to leave the Queen’s Warehouse was not taken lightly, given it contained a broad collection of World Heritage Centre artefacts and exhibits.

“After months of extensive collaboration with key heritage partners, the St George’s Foundation is delighted that all historical assets and exhibits have been preserved and transferred to appropriate, caring homes.”

Cheryl Hayward-Chew, the SGF chairwoman, said the board was proud of its track record, including its work to make St George’s and its forts a Unesco World Heritage Site.

She added: “It is momentous that December marks the 20th anniversary of Bermuda’s Unesco World Heritage Site designation and nearly 20 years of commitment to the Queen’s Warehouse.

“The St George’s Foundation is taking this critical leap to transform itself into a condensed, engaged organisation with the flexibility to absorb the rapid challenges of today’s world.

“It is through this transformation that we will funnel time, energy and the valuable contributions of our members and donors into moving forward in support of Bermuda’s Unesco World Heritage Site.”

Peter Frith, the SGF general manager, said the artefacts were adopted by several organisations, including the BNT, the Department of Parks, which runs Fort St Catherine, the St George’s Historical Society, the Bermuda Heritage Museum, the National Museum of Bermuda, the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo and the family of King’s Pilot James “Jemmy” Darrell.

Mr Frith added: “I must thank the Corporation of St. George for their support and the esteemed heritage partners who have accepted our treasured World Heritage Centre artefacts and exhibits.

“I especially thank all the volunteers who supported the Second Hand Rose thrift shop throughout the years and during the final clearance sale, as well as our many donors, members and patrons.”

The World Heritage Centre opened its doors in the Queen’s Warehouse in 2006.

An official opening ceremony was held in 2009.

The centre featured a range of displays about Bermudian heritage and history, a 45 seat theatre and 4,500ft of space for events.

But the foundation struggled to raise money after the 2008 recession hit the island and tourist traffic to the area slowed.

The WHC shut i’s doors earlier this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and it was announced in November that it would not reopen.

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Published December 30, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 29, 2020 at 7:54 pm)

World Heritage Centre closes doors for the last time

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