The Antigua & Barbuda Museum of Photography & Fine Arts, which has operated in the upstairs gallery of the Multipurpose Cultural Centre since July 28, 2013, will have to close its doors in a matter of days to make way for the Things Antiguan and Barbudan National Expo 2015, which opens on Thursday.
Now, the museum’s managing director, noted photographer and journalist, Timothy “Tim” Payne, is hard-pressed to find an “adequate place” to store over 300 photographs and work from various artists which he said is of historic value.
“One has to consider what I have put down at the Multipurpose Centre, I have acquired over an almost two-year period,” Payne said in an interview with OBSERVER . “I just want to be able to protect these things, protect the history, the heritage and the culture of Antigua & Barbuda as I have done over the last two years.
“A lot of it is very delicate and of great national importance. So to just grab everything and relocate or even to place them in storage is a huge task,” he added.
Payne received notice that the museum needed to “pack up and go” via a letter, which was signed by the Executive Director of St John’s Development Corporation (SJDC), Neil Butler.
OBSERVER obtained a copy of the missive, dated May 8, 2015, which informed Payne that he had until May 25 to “make available the top floor of the Antigua & Barbuda Exhibition and Cultural Centre presently occupied by you, making way for preparation for the Trade Expo.”
In the letter, Butler thanked Payne “for providing the nation with the knowledge you have provided through the Museum of Photography & Fine Arts.”
The letter, which was copied to Minister of Tourism Asot Michael, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism Paul Frederick, Minister of Trade Paul Chet Greene, Chairman of the Board of Directors SJDC Rohan Hector, City Manager Lower St John’s Carolyn Thomas-Parker, ABECC Coordinator Janice Benjamin-Edwards, and SJDC Chief Financial Officer James Massiah, did not indicate whether or not the photography museum will be allowed to resume operating at the cultural centre following the exhibition.
Payne said the reason why he had not acted on the dictates of the letter was simply because be had “nowhere to go or store” the exhibits.
He added that he fully supports the putting on of a great trade show; however, the timeline given for him to move was “unrealistic” and the situation could have been handled a different way.
The businessman said he is currently dialoguing with interested parties to find an alternative venue to store his artifacts.