Amuseum Naturalis was a free nature museum in Grand Case that was open the last two years. This year, the Les Fruits de Mer association is relaunching the Amuseum at the former site of The Old House museum in French Quarter. The scope of the museum is expanding to include heritage and culture, with the goal of telling the story of St. Martin.
The story of St. Martin is really a million smaller stories—pieces of a puzzle. These stories come together to tell us what St. Martin was like, and how it came to be the way it is today. They’re stories that are unique to this island, and stories that reveal St. Martin’s connections with the world.
These stories are about everyone, not just the handful of white men who wrote a book or got mentioned in one. They’re stories that celebrate the humanity of every man and woman. No Amerindian was defined by the style of their pottery, no enslaved person was defined by their enslavement. It can be a challenge to find and tell stories that were deliberately hidden and ignored, but together we can find a way.
These stories are about the things that were made and done here. They explain why houses on St. Martin look distinctive, and how gingerbreading was carved by hand. They connect us with traditions in agriculture and cooking, even if the names of the inventors and innovators have been lost to time. They are about how people lived, and how we live today.
Theses stories are about a history that sometimes isn’t that old. The story of brothers making tiles in Sucker Garden that are still underfoot in hundreds of homes on the island. The story of how monkeys got to St. Martin. The stories of surviving Donna and Luis and Irma.
The story of St. Martin is in thousands of minds right now: a sentence here, a paragraph there, maybe a chapter in a diary or photo album. The goal of the Amuseum, and the goal of this series of articles, is to help collect and share these stories—to help St. Martin tell its own story.
Please join this process by sharing your stories. Write to [email protected] or connect with Les Fruits de Mer on Facebook. And tell us what you think we get right and wrong. There may be different ways to tell a story—even different truths—but together we can get to something honest and real.