courtesy of: The Morning News
by Rosalie Klein
On Sunday, September 16, staff of the NAMA, under Head Administrator Arminda Franken-Ruiz, welcomed the public and island dignitaries for the opening of a new exhibit “I’m Alive!” The exposition is dedicated to a fascinating find on the north coast, initially discovered by tourists visiting the area in Mid-August of 2007. It sparked quite some excitement at the time.
While walking along the coast behind the snack bar at Natural Bridge, they came upon bones that were exposed by heavy rains and winds evoked by Hurricane Dean, a huge, force-five storm, which had passed just south of Jamaica.
Initially, the police were contacted, who in turn informed the Director of Aruba’s Disaster Office, Maximiliano “Bibi” Arends. He then notified the museum scientific staff and Chief Archaeologist Raymundo Dijkhoff, of the discovery.
Thus began weeks of careful excavation and investigation by the NAMA archaeological team under Dijkhoff, consisting of Harold Kelly, Hiram Angela and Francisco Croes. Forensic details immediately revealed the bones to be more than a century old and male. Jossy Luidens, owner of the snack bar, told a story passed down of a brig wrecked on the north coast in the 1800s, with a sole survivor, and the rest of the crew buried by islanders on the north coast.
The unfolding of the story of the wreck of the German Brig Hero, sunk in 1886, and its crew resulted from consultations with international experts and pouring through preserved documents in the Aruba National Archives. The entertaining exhibit that opened on Sunday recounts the history of the shipwreck along with allowing visitors to the museum to experience the process of excavation and investigation.
A dramatic enactment led by Shiera Arends replayed the wreckage of the ship, after which, as sea nymph Lorelei, she led Aruba’s Minister of Social & Economic Affairs and Culture, Michelle Hooyboer-Winklaar, and Director of UNOCA, which assisted in funding the exhibit, Lupita Gil, into the exhibit for the official opening.
It takes up two levels of the new section of the museum, the first being an introduction to the wreck of the Brig Hero, a history of the ship and its crew. The second level is a fun, interactive exhibit, dedicated to providing an understanding of the investigative process of archeologists, and the importance of learning and preserving Aruba’s historic and cultural heritage. It imparts the remarkable details uncovered by the remains, and how they were divined.
Museum Administrator Franken-Ruiz credited staffer Suzanne Boekhoudt for providing the idea and impetus for this newest transient exhibit, which will be on display until March 2013. Raymundo Dijkhoff opined that “I’m Alive!” is one of NAMA’s most interesting exhibits to date, and his certainty that museum visitors of all ages will be fascinated. The entire story of the investigation and a detailed history of the Hero is the subject of the second edition of the official publication of NAMA, “Ceque.” The magazine is in English and sold at the museum for 5 Aruban florins, ($2.85.)
NAMA is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00AM until 6:00 PM, and Saturdays and Sundays until 2:00 PM. Entrance is free.