Cataloguing Rex’s Collection

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By Lashawndla Bailey-Miller

It is not every day that one gets to be surrounded by the rich history and heritage of a prestigious institution such as the University of the West Indies (UWI), so I will consider myself lucky. My course of study dictates that I spend a total of twenty days at a heritage institution, and yes, you guessed right; those twenty days are being spent at the UWI Museum. The space is to me what a candy store is to a child, being able to not only view the artefacts but interact with them.  One of my tasks included cataloguing items gifted to the museum either by prominent figures or their foundation, and each piece taught me something about its previous owner, be it their academic or personal achievements, travel or community.

Order of the Caribbean Community – awarded 2008

One of the most impressive collections I engaged was that of Rex Nettleford. Flipping through his diplomatic passport, scrutinizing his European railway pass, exploring his numerous coins and medals, made me think this man has truly lived. Among the donations were two rubber stamps that forever immortalized his signature as well as his lapel pins and some business cards he collected over the years.                      

Spending days handling objects that reflected elements of his everyday life imbued a sense of pride and purpose knowing that these items were accessible through the UWI Museum. This space has created an archive for future generations to learn about a man who contributed greatly to Jamaican culture (especially through dance) to the University of the West Indies and Caribbean at large.

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