National Museum Anniversary
To celebrate the Cayman Islands National Museum's 25th anniversary, the Cayman Islands Postal Service has put together a stamp issue that depicts the important role it plays in the islands.
Caymanian Woman - Hand-carved from a single tree limb, this 1960s crude figure of a Caymanian woman was made by Clarice Carter of Bodden Town using guava wood and house paints. The position of the hand position exemplifies the Caymanian friendly disposition for which our people are known.
Monkey Jar - Monkey Jars are spherical earthenware red clay water containers commonplace in the Caribbean. These jars are not made in the Cayman Islands and the origin of the name is unknown. Monkey Jars were popular imports from the island of Jamaica in the early 1900s.
Coffee Grinder - This 1900s cast iron double-wheel Swift Mill Coffee Grinder was made by Lane Brothers, Poughkeepsie, New York. From the collection of Ira Thompson, this model is complete with wooden drawer to collect the ground coffee beans.
Ship Sextant - 1960s, Plath Navistar Sextant with black heavy mould, bakelite case. The sextant was owned and used by Capt. Wordal Rankine of East End Grand Cayman, a member of the Home Guard and a Merchant Marine who emigrated to United States of America where he lived and raised his family.
The Cayman Islands National Museum’s exhibition galleries are housed in the most historic building in central George Town. About 180 years old, this landmark structure is Cayman’s oldest public building and one of the few surviving 19th century buildings on the islands. It is thought to be the first purpose-built courthouse and jailhouse. Over the years, it also served as the first post office, the earliest Commissioner’s offices, public library, and savings bank. The Old Courts Building played a significant role in the life of the community by accommodating several different functions such as a schoolroom, church hall and dance hall. In the 1970s, when a new Courthouse was built, it became the offices for the Lands and Survey Department, which continued until 1986, when the property was designated to become the National Museum.
Originally, this building consisted of at least two separate structures. Eventually, they were joined together by a series of covered passages. The main structure was originally constructed as a single storey, wattle and daub building. In later years, an upper floor of shiplap boarded timber with shutters was added in the style of the Caymanian “manor” or “upstairs house.” The second structure, the Gaol, was constructed of mortared stone.
As the building is in its original location, the grounds themselves hold special archaeological significance, as they undoubtedly are laced with the remnants of the earliest history of the Islands. The Old Courts Building exhibits about 1% of the National Collection, which is comprised of cultural history, natural history and art. The collections include boats, furniture, textiles, paintings, basketry, ceramics, tools, and archaeological materials.
Museum building photo credit - Kelly Reineking
CINM Anniversary date 20 November 1990