It is with deep (but hopeful) concern that we share information on the “Save Whim Museum” coalition and its ongoing support for restoration and conservation of the architectural jewel that is the Whim Museum, located in Frederiksted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Before suffering damage from the 2017 hurricanes, the museum was an active cultural center hosting special events, concerts, summer camps for children, house tours, auctions, archeology programs, and more. Its library has been regionally recognized as an important source for genealogical research and includes collections of historical photos, papers, and maps, as we pointed out in our previous post Will Whim Museum Recover its Former Glory? Decorative Arts scholar, Michael Connors—a St. Croix resident and head of the Whim Museum Collections—is one of the people leading the Save Whim Museum efforts. We share his words here:
SAVE WHIM MUSEUM is a coalition of diverse community members with the goal of supporting the restoration and conservation of Frederiksted’s Whim Museum, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ first museum. Our group includes lifetime, former, and present members of St. Croix Landmarks Society (SCLS), the not-for-profit organization entrusted for 75 years with the responsibility to protect and preserve Whim Museum’s artifacts, buildings, grounds, and documents, all significant parts of St. Croix’s historic legacy and cultural heritage.
As a prior SCLS board trustee, head of collections, and lifetime member, my passion for Whim Museum began more than 30 years ago. I had the pleasure of donating the Baker Furniture West Indies design royalties to SCLS, which established a funding base for the museum’s endowment. Over the past two years, I published three articles in ST.CROIX THIS WEEK, which addressed SCLS’s lack of transparency, shrouded activities and overall property neglect. These articles were written with the ultimate goal of saving Whim Museum from further erosion and harm due to SCLS leadership’s inactivity. I informed both U.S.V.I. Governor Albert Bryan Jr. (who volunteered to meet with SCLS trustees) and U.S. House of Representative Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett of the museum’s issues.
Whim Museum, headquarters of the St. Croix Landmarks Society, is listed as a National Register Historic Site. For the last 60 years, this jewel of a museum had been celebrated throughout the Caribbean as “a St. Croix showplace, not to be missed, with beautifully restored grounds and buildings.”
Whim Museum is an exceptional treasure and one of the Western Hemisphere’s preeminent sites for telling the important, often dark and brutal story of colonial history. Our cultural forebearers deserve a place of honor, and their descendants deserve a museum, which educates and illuminates their ancestral heritage.
From 1948 and the beginning of SCLS stewardship with the restoration of Estate Whim’s grounds and buildings, all with community funding and volunteer elbow grease, SCLS had accomplished the following; hired a full time director, established corporate partners, educational programs (once part of the director’s duties), a gift shop, published the Postkassen newsletter, created fun fundraising events, federal grants, scholarship summer camp programs for children, a National Heritage Trail, special exhibits, lectures, symposia and workshops, island house tours, ruins rambles, candle light concerts, annual auctions, interaction with St. Croix Friends of Denmark, school classroom guided tours, and signed stewardship programs and management agreements with other St. Croix historic properties.
In addition, SCLS leadership, members, librarians, and archivists created one of the Caribbean’s most important libraries for genealogical research and historic preservation of documents. With the guidance and perseverance of the late Roy E. Adams, SCLS board trustee and historic preservationist, Whim Museum gained the acknowledgment and recognition from the St. Thomas dominated political structure and was rewarded with a renewal of Estate Whim’s government lease. Throughout the decades of hard work, Whim Museum had earned a highly respected reputation for preservation and conservation amongst Caribbean museum professionals and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Unfortunately, the lease Roy Adams fought so hard for is scheduled to expire this year.
SAVE WHIM MUSEUM group members are willing to collaborate with SCLS’s board of trustees to find solutions, provide expertise, and supply the support the museum so urgently needs. Progress is starting with the new appointment of conscientious SCLS board members who will encourage greater transparency and more museum events open to the public. In addition, St. Croix Foundation for Community Development has confirmed its willingness to support SCLS “in strengthening their operation and capacity.” There is additional news that Governor Bryan’s office and the Office of Disaster Recovery are working to access FEMA funds for a FEMA pilot program to support private non-profit projects. While no announcement has been made from SCLS leadership, there is word that, after being closed for more than five years, the museum will officially open in the beginning of 2023.
In the spirit of goodwill for our community, we hope that 2023 will be the year that SCLS will successfully renew its V.I. Government lease, have the wherewithal to appropriately celebrate Whim Museum’s 75th anniversary, renew its membership in the Museum Association of the Caribbean, and finally announce the long overdue annual meeting, a meeting that (like in years past) is open to our entire St. Croix community.
To contact Save Whim Museum, please write to Dr. Michael Connors at email@example.com.
[Photos above are all by Dr. Michael Connors.]
One thought on “Save Whim Museum”
Hi Michael! I would love to speak to you about the Whim Museum on my radio program. I am on the air on Saturdays 1 – 4 pm on WSTX Radio 970 AM. We could talk sometime in April 23. Please let me know of your availability.