The Bahamas’ primary cultural expression, Junkanoo, has been encapsulated and honored, and will stand as a testament to the spirit of the Bahamian people for time to come. The Bahamas Museum of Junkanoo is officially open for Bahamians and tourists alike to immerse themselves in the awe-inspiring sights and soul-stirring sounds of the Junkanoo parade.
The Bahamas Museum of Junkanoo aims to create a home for the Junkanoo community where knowledge is collected, stored, and disseminated. It will provide a platform for artisans’ voices and works to be supported and shared through education, exhibitions and research. It serves as a home for people to communicate and share Junkanoo in an engaging, interactive, and memorable way.
A walk through the museum is a walk through time. Replicas of original style Junkanoo costumes and a wealth of historical information is displayed. Exhibit spaces showcase the story of Junkanoo from its early beginnings to the present time. A joyous, gigantic lead Junkanoo costume piece is displayed and will be replaced annually with parade-winning pieces. Be prepared to catch the exhilarating feeling of a Junkanoo parade in a special digital exhibit with space to dance, laugh, and set the spirit free. Together with the museum team, Chair S. Rosel Moxey; Dr. Beverton Moxey (Director); Krista Dean (Director); and Anton Dean (Director of Costuming) have poured into an edifice that serves to lift the Junkanoo parade to a place of posterity for the future of The Bahamas. Asia Saunders serves as its General Manager.
The grand opening of The Bahamas Museum of Junkanoo was held at the Nassau Cruise Port five days before The Bahamas celebrated its 50th Independence anniversary – a nod to its national and historical significance. The event brought together some of the country’s most significant national and cultural leaders. They include Governor General, Sir Cornelius A. Smith; Deputy Prime Minister Hon. I Chester Cooper; Spouse of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Ann Marie Davis; former Prime Ministers Hubert A. Ingraham and Perry G. Christie; China’s Ambassador to The Bahamas Dai Quingli; Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of Economic Affairs and leader of Government Business in the Senate; Danny Johnson, former Minister of Youth, Sports & Culture; Sir Franklyn Wilson and Her Excellency Sharon Lady Wilson, former President of the Senate; Mike Maura, CEO of Nassau Cruise Port; Junkanoo icons and cultural consultants Percy “Vola” Francis and Arlene Nash-Ferguson; Bahamas Cultural Ambassador-at-large, H.E. Jamaal Rolle, and many others.
Deputy Prime Minister I. Chester Cooper, who was serving as acting Prime Minister, hailed the museum as a shining example of how Bahamian culture could be preserved for future generations. The Nassau Cruise Port (NCP) welcomes The Bahamas Museum of Junkanoo at its location, according to CEO Mike Maura, who pointed out that NCP is the single largest cruise port in the world. The port will welcome over 4.2 million visitors in 2023, and there are cruise line confirmations for 4.6 million visitors to Nassau in 2024. Speaking on behalf of the Directors, S. Rosel Moxey said The Bahamas Museum of Junkanoo “aims to be a source of education for those who don’t know and a source of pride for those who do”. She hopes that when Bahamians enter the space, they feel well represented, as “Junkanoo is you”.
Mrs. Moxey thanked the team of historians, artists, costume designers, builders, pacers, musicians, videographers, photographers, content writers, project managers, staff, website developers, carpenters, painters, and interior designers, whose collective expertise made the museum a reality. She also thanked historian Christopher Davis for his contributions, exploring the roots of Junkanoo in Ghana, Africa. The Very Rev’d Harry J.L. Bain blessed the building and presided over the ribbon cutting ceremony. The event was organized by Island Destination Services. The museum will be open to the general public from 9am to 5:30pm, seven days a week.
Educator and cultural giant Arlene Nash Ferguson recited a Junkanoo poem entitled “The Drums Never Stop” written by the museum, performed with the reigning king of the Junkanoo drum, Reuben “Rupapumpum” Deleveaux. The grand opening was also graced with an address from the king of the Junkanoo parade, Percy “Vola” Francis, who called Junkanoo “the heartbeat of The Bahamas”. Performances also included the National Youth Choir, as well as Junkanooers and Rake n’ Scrape performers.
Source: Felicity Darville
More photo highlights below: