Home News Local news Elegant Fund Raiser Marks Opening of Expanded Museum Center on St. Croix

Elegant Fund Raiser Marks Opening of Expanded Museum Center on St. Croix

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March 15, 2008 — The newly restored and expanded Caribbean Museum Center in Frederiksted opened Friday with a gala $125-a-person fund raiser.
The museum and art-education center celebrated the completion of several years of painstaking restoration, renovation and modernization of the elegant 1780 Danish two-story brick waterfront building in the center of Stand Street.
Flashbulbs went off as Cecile deJongh and Cheryl Francis, wives of the governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, joined St. Croix developer Warren Mosler in wielding scissors for a ribbon cutting before a crowd of well-dressed art patrons.
Several new galleries upstairs opened officially, displaying paintings, photographs and mixed-media presentations from Virgin Islands and Caribbean artists for the elegant folk strolling from room to room, wineglasses in hand, chatting and listening to live jazz as men and women with trays of hors d'oeuvres walked the crowd. Downstairs, in the main gallery, a PowerPoint projector showed archival photos and renovation photos of the building.
"1992, that is when this dream began," said Candia Atwater, the museum center's president. "That is when the concept for the museum was born."
She recounted finding the building and, with Mosler's help, acquiring it in 2003.
"It had sat empty since 1989," she recalled.
Mosler joked when he made a few brief remarks to the crowd.
"I'm glad I saw the business potential of this investment," he said. "And by twisting Candia's arm, she let me charge her one dollar a month rent."
He praised Atwater for her vision of an educational and cultural center.
Museum officials began doing art shows at Sunshine Mall and Carambola while waiting for a building, then got the keys to the grand colonial Strand Street building in November 2003. Renovations have been going for the four and a half years since. The doors have been open for several years now, and the center and its programs are busy, popular and successful.
Those programs include art and reading classes for school children, an artist-in-residence program and a myriad of other activities.
There will be lots of activity inside the building, too. With renovations nearly complete on the circa-1780 Danish structure, there are now several additional galleries in the museum. The second floor central hall will showcase V.I. artists, and several galleries off the main hall will display art from all over the world, Atwater said. Several rooms are apartments and studios for artists, while one room will be devoted to pottery, with pottery wheels and drying shelves. An adjacent room will house an electric kiln.
Over the years, the CMC has worked to foster a broader understanding of Caribbean artistic traditions and likewise provides an avenue for children and other artistically inspired residents to develop their own forms of artistic expression. With links to national and international museums and other partners in the Virgin Islands, the CMC is now recognized as a featured destination for artists, curators, historians and tourists worldwide.
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