The Anchor of the Santa Maria May Have Been Destroyed in Haiti Earthquake
Much of the news that comes out of Haiti at this moment is still conjecture, but from the looks of things, from the images that have started to complete the picture, it’s safe to assume that the National Museum of Haiti is destroyed. The Museum stood close to the National Palace and pictures of the Palace have been all over the Internet post-earthquake. The toppled roof and failing walls suggest what may have happened to the neighboring museum. The National Museum of Haiti was the largest collection of significant cultural and historical artifacts and work by many of the island’s painters and sculptors. Haitian painters, like many Caribbean artists, often painted the world they saw around them, the people, the land, in vibrant colors. So not only are they lost art, but the works functioned as depictions of Haitian life as well.
One of the most important pieces in the museum’s collection is the anchor to Christopher Columbus’s ship the Santa Maria, which ran aground on the Haitian coast on Christmas Eve in 1492. No part of the ship exists to this day except for the anchor, a major piece of American, Caribbean, and world history. Only time will tell how many of the works in the National Museum survived the earthquake, if any, and at this point, the priority is saving lives. But it is disheartening to think that the largest store of Haiti’s artistic and cultural history has most likely been destroyed, and along with it, buried in the rubble, a substantial relic from Columbus’s voyage to the Americas.
Given the destruction of the National Museum of Haiti, one of the the largest remaining collections of Haitian art now resides in the unlikely town of Waterloo, Iowa at the Waterloo Center for the Arts.
UPDATE: Research on the museums of Haiti proved to be confusing in writing this story. The National Museum of Haiti referred to above is not near the National Palace, but in the neighborhood of Montrouis. The National Museum is still believed to house the anchor to Columbus’s ship, but word on the state of the museum is difficult to ascertain at this point. More updates coming as my research reveals more on the condition of the museum and its collection.