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Bahamian cultural icons contribute to groundbreaking Junkanoo museum plans

Bahamian Junkanoo icons Percy “Vola” Francis and Arlene Nash-Ferguson are two of the cultural “giants” who will play a key role in the development of the groundbreaking Junkanoo museum at Nassau’s cruise port.

This unique cultural attraction will be stationed directly across from the new arrivals terminal, offering thousands of visitors a taste of the drama and excitement of Junkanoo. The museum will include a 30-foot-high atrium exhibit space that will feature a 20-foot-tall Junkanoo sculpture. It will also house various forms of Bahamian artwork, images and other representations of the story of Junkanoo. Technology and innovation will be incorporated extensively into the museum experience, which will include interactive exhibits, an impact theater for short films and presentations and a Junkanoo gift shop that will only include “authentically Bahamian” souvenirs and memorabilia.

Francis, leader of the Saxon Superstars and the undisputed “King of Junkanoo”, spoke about the vision of the project.

“The significance of creating this museum is to encapsulate the essence and spirit of our unique cultural expressions through the various art forms and components of Junkanoo that will be on display in a vibrant, multi-colored fashion and a truly Bahamian format,” he said.

Renowned educator, entertainer and Junkanoo historian Nash-Ferguson described the impact that the museum will have on visitors and Bahamians.

“The Junkanoo museum will greet our visitors with the color and celebratory spirit of the people of The Bahamas. It will create a sense of place and add to the signature quality of Historic Nassau Harbour. It will also give Bahamians an overwhelming sense of pride and excitement as it accurately reflects and celebrates them,” she said.

From an educational and historical perspective, she explained, “Any display of Junkanoo must be worthy of Junkanoo itself. The story of Junkanoo must not only highlight its proud history but must also celebrate the tradition bearers of today – the people who cause these annual magnificent parades to happen. It must tell their stories and give them pride of place. It must trace their proud journeys from the bare cardboard in the Junkanoo shacks that their genius transforms into a kaleidoscope of magnificent, unparalleled color and pounding rhythm on Bay [Street]. This is the story that we will tell.”

She added that the museum “will also highlight Junkanoo in all the islands of The Bahamas where it is held”.

Both project consultants shared that the museum will showcase every aspect of Junkanoo in depth – the history, costumes, music and performance. This will include elements like a Junkanoo “Hall of Fame”; historical exhibits including subjects such as “The Evolution of the Junkanoo Costume”; winning parade pieces; mini Junkanoo rushouts; and a cow belling, drumming and rushout interaction, among other activities.

The museum will also give individual Junkanooers and groups economic opportunities through performances, product sales and other initiatives. The participation of Junkanooers will be incorporated into the plans for the museum to every extent possible.

Francis expressed his excitement about being a part of this culturally significant project.

“This museum is long overdue and is being designed specifically for the people of The Bahamas to showcase the magnificence and brilliance of this uniquely Bahamian cultural force to the world. I can assure that Bahamians will be very proud of the final product.”

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