Relocation of Walter Roth Museum suspended, amid concerns by Amerindian leaders

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 August 2016, 17:35 by Denis Chabrol

The Walter Roth Museum, Main Street, Georgetown.

The Walter Roth Museum, Main Street, Georgetown.

In the wake of serious concerns about the likely impact of the movement of fragile ancient artifacts from the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology to another location, government on Wednesday announced that it has suspended removal of the museum.

Senior Minister of Education and Culture, Dr. Roopnaraine said no decision will be made on the relocation of the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, until consultations have been had with the museum staff and stakeholders, including the leaders of the 212 Indigenous villages.

Roopnaraine gave this assurance as he was addressing the question of the museum’s relocation, during his engagement with the Indigenous leaders Wednesday morning at the National Toshaos Council (NTC) meeting at the Arthur Chung International Convention Centre, Liliendaal.

“What I have done, is I have asked the President (David Granger) to put the question of the movement of the Walter Roth Museum on hold until I have had an opportunity to discuss the matter more thoroughly with the people, the anthropologists, the toshaos and so on,” Minister Roopnaraine was quoted as saying by the Government Information Agency (GINA). His announcement was met with loud applause from the Indigenous leaders.

The Minister assured the Indigenous leaders that the matter is one that is at the heart of his very own family.

The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has launched an Online campaign against the removal of the museum and co-founder of the museum, Jennifer Wishart has warned of the likely impact on the collections. “We do not as yet have the expertise required for the removal of such delicate and very ancient artifacts dating back to some 7,200 years ago,” she said.

Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine engages toshaos on Day Three of the National Toshaos Council Conference

Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine engages toshaos on Day Three of the National Toshaos Council Conference

The Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP) had recently announced its decision to move the museum, to the Guyana National Museum and to use the institution’s current Main Street location for a department of the MOTP.

The Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology contains a wealth of historic information and artifacts about the Amerindian people with the aim of keeping the legacy of Guyana’s first people alive.

During this morning’s engagement, Patrick Gomes, toshao of Maruranau Village, Region Nine decried the government’s decision to move the Museum, on the grounds that the artifacts contained within are those founded several hundred years ago, and that many not be able to survive relocation.

Gomes called on all the indigenous leaders present at the NTC to make a recommendation to the government that the museum remains at its present site, “because we do not want to lose our heritage and our connection to the past.” The indigenous people need to “have that connection to the past, to know where we came from, where we are going and what we have,” Gomes noted.