Hundreds of island residents and visitors poured into 96 Boulevard de Grand Case on Tuesday evening during the first Mardi de Grand Case for the grand opening of Amuseum Naturalis. Amuseum Naturalis is a free, public pop-up museum showcasing the natural history of St. Martin and the Caribbean, created by the Les Fruits de Mer association. Locals and tourists of all ages are invited to discover captivating natural history displays, biological curiosities, marvels of nature, spectacular specimens, live wildlife displays, a theater showing wildlife films, and more, throughout high season 2016 in this one-of-a-kind exhibition space.
Christian Papaliolios, President and General Director of Delta Petroleum, the sponsor of Amuseum Naturalis, officially opened the museum with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 6pm on Tuesday, accompanied by Mardis de Grand Case organizer Chantal Vernusse, and Les Fruits de Mer officers and volunteers. The space for the temporary museum was donated for the 2016 high season to the Les Fruits de Mer association by Papaliolios and Delta Petroleum.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have been given the opportunity to bring Amuseum Naturalis to life, and see everybody enjoying it,” said Mark Yokoyama, Les Fruits de Mer co-founder and Amuseum co-curator. “It would not have been possible without all the hard work of our awesome volunteers, who came together to help create this incredible place, building and painting display tables and benches, and putting together these amazing exhibitions,” added the Amuseum’s other co-curator, Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes.
On display now at Amuseum Naturalis are exhibits on St. Martin’s bats, the endangered native Gaïac tree, insects that help keep the island clean, and “Gut Life: the Fascinating Freshwater Ecosystems of St. Martin.” The Amuseum’s special exhibits room is currently featuring an exclusive show of stunning original photographs and text from the photo essay Shadow of a Drought by nature photographer Yokoyama, highlighting the effects of drought on key St. Martin wetlands. Also on view is the first installment of “Women, People of Color, and the Making of Natural History in the Caribbean,” a unique series that reveals and celebrates the often hidden, suppressed, or not widely known historical contributions of women and people of color to the study of Caribbean flora and fauna.
“We hope everyone will stop by every Tuesday during Mardis de Grand Case to see what’s happening at the Amuseum,” said Yerkes. “We’ll have new wonders every week!”