St. Martin Stories!

Building a guest house, surviving a hurricane, harvesting salt, teaching painting: St. Martin people have many stories to tell. At Amuseum Naturalis, we have added an exhibit with six stories from six St. Martiners. You can read in their own words about their life experiences and accomplishments. In every story, you can learn about the way St. Martin once was, and how it came to be the way it is today.

Special thanks to the participants who shared their stories and the Les Fruits de Mer interview teams that recorded these oral histories!

Book of Cures Exhibit

Would you like to explore medicine and life on St. Martin in the 19th century? Amuseum Naturalis recently added a new exhibit featuring a 19th century medical notebook from St. Martin. The exhibit explores the text of the notebook and what it can tell us about St. Martin at that time. The exhibit is in the front yard of Amuseum Naturalis, visit any time during the day. You can also download a book on the same topic here: The Book of Cures.

Special Exhibit Launch Party

Tuesday was the last Mardi de Grand Case street fair of the season, and also the launch party for our new special exhibit: Women, People of Color, and the Making of Natural History in the Caribbean. We were delighted to have over 600 visitors to the museum for this special event! If you didn’t make it, you can check out the exhibit Tuesdays and Thursdays between 4-8pm until May 2nd, or at the 2017 Endemic Animal Festival on Sunday, April 23rd from 9am-3pm. The exhibit was made possible by a grant from Be the Change SXM. Visit their site to learn how you can support great projects on St. Martin.

New Paintings at the Amuseum

We are lucky to have some gorgeous new paintings at the Amuseum thanks to Sélénia Sanner. Now, each of the exhibits in our main room has a companion painting, and they are gorgeous. The concept was to have paintings related to the theme of each exhibit at ground level in the Amuseum to capture the imagination of our youngest guests. In fact, they are an amazing addition for all our guests. Here are images of the most recent paintings we added, although photos don’t really do them justice so please visit the Amuseum to see them in person!

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Crabitat Launches Today

In celebration of World Wetlands Day, Amuseum Naturalis is launching the Crabitat, a fascinating new exhibit showcasing the fiddler crabs that can be found in great numbers around virtually all of St. Martin’s ponds. The Crabitat will be a special attraction on Tuesday, January 31st during the Mardis de Grand Case street fair.

World Wetlands Day is a global program that raises awareness about the importance of wetlands. On St. Martin, salt ponds and other wetlands are one of the richest ecosystems, hosting a wide diversity of life. They also provide the valuable service of processing organic material, keeping our seas crystal clear and our coral reefs vibrant. Fiddler crabs, which are the featured stars of the Crabitat, are key players in this system, sifting organic matter from the sand.

“The Crabitat is a great way to get an up-close view of these adorable and ecologically important critters,” explains Mark Yokoyama, co-curator of Amuseum Naturalis. “World Wetlands Day is the perfect opportunity to give them a turn in the spotlight.”

Amuseum Naturalis, a free nature museum in Grand Case created by the Les Fruits de Mer association, also showcases wetlands in Gut Life, an ongoing exhibit about freshwater wildlife. In the Amuseum Naturalis theater, short films about the freshwater animals of St. Martin and fiddler crabs will also be in rotation. The Amuseum’s special exhibit room will be featuring displays about wetland birds and the impact of drought on wetlands.

“The chance to learn about the island’s natural heritage is something we’re excited to share with our employees, our customers, their families and everyone on St. Martin,” commented Christian Papaliolios, President and General Director of Delta Petroleum, the primary sponsor of Amuseum Naturalis. “It’s a fun and meaningful way to give back to the community that supports us.”

Amuseum Naturalis is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-8pm, and is located at 96 Boulevard de Grand Case. Completely free thanks to the support of Delta Petroleum and the Friends of the Amuseum, the Amuseum welcomes residents and visitors of all ages to discover St. Martin’s natural heritage.

Take a peek inside the Crabitat:

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Preparing Skulls, Part Three

Here’s the final installment of our Preparing Skulls series! We think you’ll find that it all comes together quite nicely for these rather handsome skulls. But don’t worry, we’ll continue to showcase more behind the scenes action as we get the rest of our exhibits ready for display.

New in the Tank

We’ve got an interesting new addition to the tank, straight from the gut in Concordia. It’s an apple snail! There are quite a few different species, including some native to the Caribbean, but we haven’t figured out exactly what this one is yet. They are especially good at living in places with seasonal dry periods because they can breathe in two way: by gill or by lung.

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The Invaders Launched

We are excited to launch a new exhibit telling one of the most interesting stories we know about wildlife on St. Martin: the animals that arrived on St. Martin with the human help and have transformed both the ecology and history of the island and continue to do so. The invaders have exterminated native species, spread disease and even helped cause the collapse of at least one agricultural industry.

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February Special Exhibit Launch

On Tuesday we launched the new featured exhibit in our special exhibit hall, Women, People of Color and the Making of Natural History in the Caribbean, created by Jenn Yerkes. The exhibit launched with engaging, in-depth displays on four largely unsung figures in Caribbean natural history studies: Maria Sibylla Merian, Graman Quassi, Richard Hill and Felipe Poey. The exhibit will be on display for the next month, with additional profiles to be added during that time.

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Special Exhibit Launching Tuesday

This duck species was named by 19th century mixed-race Jamaican naturalist Richard Hill.
This duck species was named by 19th century mixed-race Jamaican naturalist Richard Hill.

Island residents and tourists of all ages are invited to the free grand opening of the exhibit Women, People of Color, and the Making of Natural History in the Caribbean, on Tuesday, February 9 from 6-10pm at Amuseum Naturalis in Grand Case.

The exhibit is a special series at Amuseum Naturalis, created to shine a light on the contributions of women and people of color in the study of natural history in the Caribbean, from the 1600s to the early 1900s. The exhibit brings their discoveries, explorations and stories to life with vivid biographical snapshots and reproductions of beautiful historical zoological and botanical illustrations, engravings, portraits and maps.

The exhibit spotlights women like groundbreaking naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian, who led her own scientific expedition to Suriname in 1699.
The exhibit spotlights women like groundbreaking naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian, who led her own scientific expedition to Suriname in 1699.

“The historical contributions of women and people of color to science have often been hidden, suppressed, or simply not as well publicized as those of their white male contemporaries, and this is just as true in the Caribbean as elsewhere,” explains Jenn Yerkes, Amuseum Naturalis co-curator and Les Fruits de Mer President. “We wanted to create an opportunity for people to discover the fascinating stories of these incredible women and men who helped to build the scientific heritage of the Caribbean.”

The free, public exhibit will launch Tuesday night with the first installation of the series, which will include captivating figures such as naturalist and scientific artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 – 1717), known for her expedition to Suriname to document Caribbean insects, reptiles, birds, and plants; Graman Quassi (ca. 1690 – ca. 1780), a renowned Surinamese healer and botanist of African descent; Richard Hill (1795-1872), a trailblazing mixed-race naturalist and anti-slavery activist from Jamaica; and Felipe Poey (1799-1891), a Cuban zoologist known for his pioneering study of Caribbean marine life. The upcoming installations will be added throughout the run of the exhibit, so there will be new additions for visitors to enjoy every week. The exhibit will coincide with Black History Month and run through International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016.

The exhibit's launch will include the 19th century mixed-race Jamaican naturalist and abolitionist Richard Hill.
The exhibit’s launch will include the 19th century mixed-race Jamaican naturalist and abolitionist Richard Hill.

Women, People of Color, and the Making of Natural History in the Caribbean will be on display in the special exhibit hall of Amuseum Naturalis, Les Fruits de Mer’s free pop-up museum of natural history located at 96 Boulevard de Grand Case. Amuseum Naturalis is open to the public on Tuesdays during the Mardis de Grand Case street fair, and is sponsored by Delta Petroleum.