Amuseum Naturalis Celebrates a Year at The Old House

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Amuseum Naturalis is hosting a happy hour on Saturday to celebrate one year of operations at The Old House.

The public is invited to stop by Amuseum Naturalis for an end-of-season happy hour from 4-6pm this Saturday, July 20th. The Amuseum will be celebrating one year at The Old House in French Quarter and the end of the season. After Saturday, the Amuseum will be closed until October.

“It’s hard to believe we launched Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House just a year ago,” said Jenn Yerkes, President of Les Fruits de Mer, the association behind the Amuseum. “So many people helped transform the place into a museum, and we’ve had so many great experiences with visitors, school groups and summer camps. We look forward to finishing this fantastic year with a fun happy hour!”

Amuseum Naturalis opened at The Old House on July 22, 2018. Since then, the Amuseum has had over 6,000 visitors. Over 2,000 kids visited with schools, youth groups and summer camps. 

Amuseum Naturalis has welcomed over 6,000 visitors to The Old House over the last year.

Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum of the nature, history and culture of St. Martin and the Caribbean, created by the Les Fruits de Mer association. It is located at the historic Old House in French Quarter on the hill above Le Galion. It is an all-volunteer project, and over 300 people have spent over 5,000 hours to create and operate the Amuseum.

Over 300 people have volunteered to help build Amuseum Naturalis.

Amuseum Naturalis will be open from 9am to noon Tuesday to Saturday until July 20th, and admission is free. It is located at The Old House, on the hill above Galion Beach in French Quarter. It will re-open in October. More information is available at http://amuseumnaturalis.com. Join the happy hour on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/2856709844370549/

Learn, Help and Share at Amuseum Naturalis on International Museum Day

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Guests share songs around a campfire at one of the Amuseum’s previous Cultural Happy Hours.

International Museum Day is Saturday, May 18th, and all are invited to participate at Amuseum Naturalis. Visit the Amuseum 9am to noon for free to celebrate and learn about the island’s nature and heritage. Join in as a volunteer from 3-5pm to help make the Amuseum better. Come share your knowledge and talent, or just enjoy, at the free Cultural Happy Hour from 5-8pm.

“Have you been to a museum lately?” asks Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. She can think of two good reasons why you should go: “I think everyone can learn something new at Amuseum Naturalis, even people who know the island very well. We’re also a community museum. We record and share information from the community so this culture and heritage isn’t lost.”

Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum of nature and heritage located at The Old House in French Quarter. It features over two dozen exhibits covering many local topics, from animals to architecture and poetry to bush tea. The Amuseum has attracted over 5,000 guests since it opened at its current location in July 2018.

The Amuseum is created entirely by volunteers, and monthly volunteer days typically attract 25-50 people. Many of the volunteers enjoy the chance to make new friends while gardening, building or cleaning. The Amuseum has hosted several Cultural Happy Hours, featuring acoustic music, poetry readings and other performances. These events are a great chance to enjoy the grounds and gardens of The Old House, a place that feels very remote for busy St. Martin, especially on a full moon night.

International Museum Day is celebrated by museums all over the world, on or around May 18th. The annual event’s goal is to raise awareness that “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” In 2018, more than 40,000 museums participated in the event, in some 158 countries.

Amuseum Naturalis is an all-volunteer museum, and you can join in on Saturday from 3-5pm.

“It’s really exciting to be part of International Museum Day,” said Amuseum co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “St. Martin has its own wildlife, culture, history and language. There is no big national museum here, but St. Martin needs and deserves museums as much as anywhere else in the world. On the plus side, anyone can help the museums we do have. Anyone can have a voice in how the story of St. Martin is being told.”

People can also take part in Museum Day activities at the St. Maarten Museum on Front Street in Philipsburg. It will be open from 9am to noon, and they will celebrate with the 2019 International Museum Day theme: Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition. There will be games for the children and informative presentations.

Amuseum Naturalis is open from 9am to noon Tuesday to Saturday and admission is free. The Museum Day volunteering will be from 3-5pm on Saturday, May 18th and the free Cultural Happy Hour will follow from 5-8pm. The Amuseum is located at The Old House, on the hill above Galion Beach in French Quarter.

EAF Dream Team

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A great team of 45 volunteers came together on Sunday to host the Endemic Animal Festival. The event is a showcase for the animals that live only on St. Martin. This year, the festival used the theme Survivors to celebrate many different aspects of local heritage and culture.

“In six years of hosting this event, this was our most amazing team of volunteers yet,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “People of all ages and backgrounds worked together to share the things that make this island so special. Thanks to this team, we were able to offer more fun activities and interact more with the kids and families that came out to the festival.”

The Endemic Animal Discovery Station has been a feature of the event since the beginning. Guests learn about the critters that live here and nowhere else, and why St. Martin’s nature is so special and unique. Art and craft activities are also a mainstay of the event. This year, guests enjoyed painting bird feeders made from upcycled plastic bottles.

Many exhibits and activities used the Suvivors theme to share other parts of local heritage. At the Story Survival station, guests recorded oral histories about life on St. Martin. A special exhibit of poems, from the recent Lasana M. Sekou book Hurricane Protocol, explored trauma, loss and survival. At the Plantilles Station, guests received seedlings of native trees that can boost survival of native animals. They also took home plants used in bush medicine, which is the island’s oldest healing tradition.

“The festival weaves local nature and culture together in new ways each year,” explained Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “This island is beautiful and fascinating. It is a joy to share that wonder with young St. Martiners. It’s also a chance for us to learn new things from the guests who come. Listening, recording and sharing are all part of the magic.”

The Endemic Animal Festival was created by the Les Fruits de Mer association. This year’s event was held at Amuseum Naturalis in French Quarter. The Hurricane Protocol and 5,000 Years of Eco exhibits are still on display during museum hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 9am to noon. The 2019 festival was made possible by the support of Gold Sponsor Delta Petroleum and sponsors 97150, BirdsCaribbean, Buzz, IZI Light, L’Auberge Gourmande, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, L’Esperance Hotel, St. Martin’s Sweetness and Tri-Sport.

Free Festival Celebrates Local Animals and More This Sunday

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BirdSleuth Caribbean activities are a fun way to learn about birds on St. Martin.

The Les Fruits de Mer association welcomes everyone to the 6th annual Endemic Animal Festival this Sunday, April 28th from 9am to noon. The free festival will be held at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter. The event celebrates the animals that live only on St. Martin, with special exhibits and fun activities.

The free Endemic Animal Festival is this Sunday, April 28th from 9am-noon at Amuseum Naturalis.

“Our theme this year is Survivors,” explained Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “Our endemic animals are the ultimate survivors. By adapting to survive on St. Martin, they became unique species that are found nowhere else on earth.”

The festival’s Endemic Animal Discovery Station will feature many of the special critters that live only on St. Martin. They are a key part of the heritage of the island. If they were lost here, they would disappear from the world. Kids and adults can also learn about birds that live only in our region with fun games and activities from the BirdSleuth Caribbean program.

The Spotted Woodslave is one of the animals found only on St. Martin.

The festival will also use the theme Survivors to explore local heritage in other ways. A special exhibit of poems from the new book Hurricane Protocol by renowned writer Lasana M. Sekou tells stories of survival in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Visitors will get a preview of Soualibra, a new research library that collects and shares knowledge about St. Martin. A special exhibit will highlight 5,000 years of eco-friendly traditions on St. Martin.

“At this festival, guests can help St. Martin’s survival,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “You can decorate a bird feeder made from a re-used plastic bottle, and take it home to feed birds in your backyard. You can also take home free seedlings of native trees and other plants. You’ll learn about some of the threats we all face here, but also take steps to make the island stronger.”

Guests can decorate and bring home a bird feeder.

The Endemic Animal Festival is great for all ages, especially kids. Festival guests will also be able to enjoy all the regular exhibits at Amuseum Naturalis, which is located on the hill above Galion Beach in French Quarter. The 2019 festival is completely free thanks to the generous support of Gold Sponsor Delta Petroleum and sponsors 97150, BirdsCaribbean, Buzz, IZI Light, L’Auberge Gourmande, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, L’Esperance Hotel, St. Martin’s Sweetness and Tri-Sport.

Les Fruits de Mer volunteers have been busy growing native trees and other plants to give away at the event.

Citizens of Change Project Celebrates St. Martiners Who Made a Difference

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Citizens of Change is a new project to celebrate St. Martiners who have made a difference on the island. The public is invited to nominate people they would like to recognize. The stories of their work will be featured in an exhibit at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House, and also online. The Les Fruits de Mer association and Be the Change Foundation are partners in this project.

“Amuseum Naturalis is a place to share all the stories of St. Martin,” explained Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “Citizens of Change is an opportunity to share the stories of everyday people who made a difference. It’s also a chance for the community to tell us what they want to see in the Amuseum.”

People are encouraged to nominate anyone, living or dead, who made a difference on St. Martin. Nominations for teachers, writers, artists, builders, farmers, craftsmen, cooks, parents and storytellers are encouraged. By “citizen” we refer to ordinary members of the community, rather than political leaders. Nominees may be of any nationality.

Nominations can be made by email to info@lesfruitsdemer.com, on the Les Fruits de Mer Facebook page, or in person at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House. Nominations should include the name of the person nominated and a description of their contribution to the island. 

“The success and survival of St. Martin has always depended on ordinary people making a difference,” said Be the Change Foundation Director Melanie Choisy. “Our organization is dedicated to the kind of giving, sharing and volunteering that is part of St. Martin culture. We’re excited to support a project that celebrates this spirit and the people who embody it.”

The Citizens of Change project is the Be the Change featured project for March. Donations made to the foundation this month will fund the creation of this exhibit. Donations can be made online at https://bethechangesxm.com. 

Get Free Native Plants for Your Backyard at Amuseum Naturalis

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Anyone looking to add some green to their yard or neighborhood can get free plants at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter. The free plant stand is located just in front of the Amuseum, and is stocked with an assortment of native plants and trees. The plants are provided by the Les Fruits de Mer association.

“Native plants are great for native animals, and after the destruction of Hurricane Irma, we still need to replace plants that were lost,” said Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “St. Martin is the most densely-populated island in the Caribbean, so there is not a lot of open space. Adding native plants around our homes can help make up for a lack of wild spaces.”

Les Fruits de Mer’s native plants nursery is one of several plant projects at Amuseum Naturalis. Promoting native plants helps local species and hopefully reduces demand for imported plants, which may arrive with unwanted pests. The project is funded by donations and a grant from BirdsCaribbean’s Hurricane Relief Fund. This fund has provided support for birds and nature on islands impacted by the hurricanes of 2017.

Other plant projects at Amuseum Naturalis include a native plant trail, a bush tea and bush medicine garden, and plantings of traditional food crops. Amuseum visitors are invited to learn all about plants and plant use on St. Martin. They are also welcome to share knowledge about plants and how they are used. The association will also give away seedlings of heritage plants used in bush teas.

“Please come by and pick up some free plants,” invited Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “You can also visit the Amuseum for free while you are there! And please continue to share what you know about local plants and how they are used, so this knowledge can be passed on to future generations.”

Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House is a free museum sharing all that is special about St. Martin. It is open 9am to noon Tuesday to Saturday, and is located at The Old House on the hill above Le Galion beach in French Quarter. The free plant stand is in front of the Amuseum and accessible at all times.

Migratory Bird Festival 2018

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Despite the rain, over 150 guests of all ages found fun new ways to learn about birds at the Migratory Bird Festival on Saturday. Created by an all-volunteer team from the Les Fruits de Mer association, this year’s festival took place at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter.

“This was our sixth Migratory Bird Festival, so we created a lot of new activities to keep it fresh,” explained Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “You could listen to bird sounds and measure yourself compared to local birds. People loved decorating their own bird tote bags and playing Bird Bingo in the gardens.”

The Migratory Bird Festival celebrates the birds that travel thousands of miles each year to live in St. Martin. They connect this tiny island to the rest of the Americas. The festival also highlights the things these birds need to survive. At the Portable Pond, guests could see aquatic insects and other creatures that many migratory birds eat. The Habitat Scavenger Hunt sent kids looking for food, shelter and other things that birds depend on.

“This was our first Migratory Bird Festival at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House,” commented Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “It was the perfect place, with lots of indoor and outdoor space to explore. Many people from French Quarter came to the festival, and we want to keep building the connection between the town and the Amuseum.”

The 2018 Migratory Bird Festival was made possible by a team of 20 wonderful volunteers. The festival was free thanks to the support of its sponsors: L’Auberge Gourmand, BZSE, Coalys, Delta Petroleum, ECOFIP, Frigodom, IZI LIGHT, Lagoonies, Pelikaan Brewery, St. Martin’s Sweetness and SXM Logistics. To see highlights from the festival, visit http://lesfruitsdemer.com or find Les Fruits de Mer on Facebook.

Migratory Bird Festival

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Amuseum Naturalis is excited to host the 6th annual Migratory Bird Festival!

The annual Migratory Bird Festival is a free, public event where residents and visitors alike can see, celebrate, and learn about the marvelous migratory birds that travel thousands of miles each year to visit or spend the winter in St. Martin. These amazing birds connect the Americas with their incredible journeys, and St. Martin plays an important role in their life cycle. Activities at the 2018 Migratory Bird Festival will include birdwatching, BirdSleuth games, interactive discovery stations, art activities, and more! This year’s event will be held on Saturday, October 13th from 9am to noon at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter. The festival is brought to you by Les Fruits de Mer, and the 2018 sponsors: L’Auberge Gourmand, BZSE, Coalys, Delta Petroleum, ECOFIP, Frigodom, IZI LIGHT, Lagoonies, Pelikaan Brewery, St. Martin’s Sweetness and SXM Logistics.

Date: Saturday, October 13, 2018
Time: 9am – Noon
Location: Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House, French Quarter