TT will soon have a Carnival museum dedicated to educating those interested in local culture and history of the festival.
The aim of the TT Carnival Museum (TTCM) is to keep Carnival traditions alive and to teach tourists about their importance.
The TTCM's director Kenny Attai formed a steering committee to set it up.
The TTCM in collaboration with the Carnival Institute of TT (CITT), held a "pre-launch" of the museum on Wednesday to show its progress on the project so far and what it could become.
Attai said the committee had been working on the project for past two years and thanked two members at the pre-launch, Hasani Wattely and Christoph Brathwaite, for their time, contribution and continued support.
This non-profit organisation has been given a budget of $25 million to renovate what was once the Penny Bank Building at 81 Charlotte Street, Port of Spain. Attai said once this is completed, all the added features including those using technology, will be rolled out on a phased basis.
TTCM was given the former Penny Bank Building by First Citizens Bank (FCB) as part of its corporate social responsibility programme covering local culture. TTCM's proposal was chosen out of 127 others.
Rosalind Gabriel, president of the TT Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA), said, "We are particularly pleased with the location of the awarded space, as it is very close to the birthplace of our Carnival and aligns with the proposed plans for the revitalisation of east PoS as announced by PoS mayor Joel Martinez."
The museum features many pieces of Carnival artwork, such as photos of people parading the streets in their Carnival costumes dating back to the 80s. Some items are in glass cases as they are small and intricate, but there were also larger displays of costumes. The idea was to highlight the history of Carnival and how it was celebrated at the time of its birth.
Curator and designer at the CITT Mary-Ann Brailey took the media and Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell on a tour. Many recognisable and traditional pieces were on display such as the bat, dame Lorraine, a suit that belonged to Lord Kitchener and album art from local musicians and pictures from their first performances.
The dame Lorraine can be seen as you enter, dressed in yellow, accentuating the most prominent features these dames are known for. Throughout the exhibit,
there are photos of people parading the streets in old-time costumes.
There was also a sculpture, the devil character the Book Man, in the middle of the floor
Along the corridor is an exhibition on calypsonians, where the walls are covered in photos of musicians such as Kitchener, Machel Montano and Aaron Duncan, while across the corridor a monitor played short clips of performances by some of these artistes.
Videos can be seen throughout the museum to help bring the piece and time period alive so onlookers can either reminisce or learn about the history of Carnival.
Once the historical value of the costumes and artifacts displayed were soaked up, Gabriel, Mitchell and Attai addressed the media.
Mitchell let out an exasperated sigh and said, "I want to say thank you for a tremendous weight off of my shoulders as minister."
He explained that the ministry was unable to bring that part of history alive, but said it was a partner that has sponsored and will continue to sponsor the museum. Mitchell also urged the private sector to invest in the museum to help its development.
"I want it to be the number-one site and attraction in the tourism industry so that everybody must come here, must pass through here, must experience and must understand our culture and what we have given to the world. And they must be able to purchase some souvenirs."
Gabriel said, "The Carnival Museum is to be the home where the stories of Carnival are told, and its mission will be to preserve the history and ongoing evolution of TT Carnival wherever it occurs in the world, passing its knowledge and skills on to the world, communicating its legacy and telling the story through education art and technology.
"We have some exciting plans lined up in creating this model and world-class museum, including the use of virtual reality and in-person augmented reality technology through mobile devices."
The museum is not open to the public yet, as Attai said the planned phases are yet to materialise.
He said all the pieces have been loaned or given to the museum by CITT, and all owners are credited and given the choice of donating their pieces to the museum or keeping them in storage with the CITT.