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Caribbean Heritage Museum Finally Gets To Launch (Physically And Virtually) After Pandemic Opening

 Calibe Thompson, left, and David Muir, right, pose for a photo at the Island SPACE Caribbean Museum.
Caitie Switalski Muñoz
/
WLRN
Calibe Thompson, left, and David Muir, right, co-founded the Island SPACE Caribbean Museum together.

The Island SPACE Caribbean museum, the first of its kind, has been open since late last Fall — but this Sunday is the Museum's grand opening event, happening virtually and in person.

The Island SPACE Caribbean Museum opened quietly during the pandemic in what used to be a restaurant in Plantation's Westfield Broward Mall.

Calibe Thompson is one of the co-founders of the museum. The cases full of artifacts show items that are not from just one island — or two — but from all over the Caribbean. The museum is dedicated to representing all countries in the region.

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The displays are chronological, starting with Indigenous groups, colonialism through emancipation — then other parts of the space go through traditions of different places, and food.

There's a pair of Usain Bolt's shoes, all the way to the background of Voodoo and other religions.

"Coming here to live in South Florida and starting to meet and feel a familiarity and a kinship with the Trini accent or the Haitian accent or even the Latin accents, and the food that we all share, and those commonalities that you start to discover when you interact with these people — that was the spark that started the idea to to do this," Thompson said.

When she and her co-founder were starting to build their collection Thompson said she looked to Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington D.C.

"He talked about in his interviews ... doing a public call and asking people to check their attics, their basements, their garage just for found things, and that's what we started doing," Thompson said.

"I pilfered much of this stuff from my mother's collection,"she continued. "She gave me this passion for antique things, and found things, and what have you, and she had a bunch of this stuff from her childhood growing up [in Jamaica]."

David Muir is a co-founder of the Island SPACE nonprofit and the museum with Thompson. He calls their mission now, "edu-tainment."

"If we can educate and entertain simultaneously, that's what we aim to do. So it's a mixture of, you know, really deeply historical artifacts as well as things that people are very interested in," he explained. "So that we can spread the message of our history."

As for the grand opening event on June 27, there will be Caribbean celebrities, music and a free experience for people who want to join online.

CalibeThompson26232021.jpg
Caitie Switalski Muñoz
Calibe Thompson, a co-founder of the Island SPACE Caribbean Museum, shows off one of the traditional Junkanoo costumes on display.