Barbados has a new attraction that officials are hoping will be an added benefit to the tourism industry as well as an avenue to educate individuals about some famous and historic personalities.
The first of its kind in the region, the Caribbean Wax Museum was unveiled today in Maxwell, Christ Church, depicting a range of local, regional and international sports personalities, actors, entertainers, politicians, businesspeople and other major historic figures.
Yesterday, dozens of specially invited guests had the opportunity to be the first to view the 32 life-size wax sculptures and eight busts currently on display in the facility, to which the final touches are currently being added. The Caribbean Wax Museum will officially open to the public by Tuesday next week for a fee, and should have additional figures on display.
Co-founder and director of the museum Arthur Edwards said so far he and his business partner had invested over a million Barbados dollars in bringing the dream, which he had been working on since 2009, to reality.
He said he was hoping it would form a major part of the island’s tourism offering, as well as a location where locals could go and learn more about famous historical people.
“We just want to have an alternative to what is available for our tourists to interact with and get an understanding as to the environs. It is a regional initiative. We want to be relative throughout the region and hopefully Barbadians will participate,” said Edwards.
“People can actually learn of some of the people we are depicting here. Some of them are not very well known because they are very historic. But once we do a good job in depicting them, it will attract sufficient interest from otherwise unknowing people and they might become more interested in the history of the region,” he added.
Using the iconic former Venezuelan political leader Simón Bolívar as an example, Edwards said there were a number of individuals in the Latin and South American region who were “relevant to us as well”.
“That is a classic example as to how this can benefit the population in terms of education and making people more aware as to where we are in the world,” he said.
The wax sculptures, which are designed and made locally, include Barbadian singing sensation Rihanna; late prime minister and Father of Independence Errol Walton Barrow and his sister, the first female Governor General of Barbados Dame Nita Barrow; entertainers Alison Hinds and the Might Gabby; reggae icon from Jamaica Bob Marley; English businessman Richard Branson; American actress and singer Jennifer Lopez, and the king of sprinting Usain Bolt.
“These are names that should not be forgotten,” said Edwards, explaining that while it was good to name buildings, roads and roundabouts after people, when you put a face to the name people were more likely to remember them.
Historian Dr Karl Watson welcomed the new museum, describing the collection as eclectic, while adding that some of the wax figures that immediately “jumped out”
He said the Caribbean Wax Museum was important since it would help to remind, especially young Barbadians, about “the figures of our past; the people who made outstanding contributions to our past.
“Also this exhibition focuses on us. This is telling the history of us as a people. Very often in the narrative we tend to be peripheral. So this wax museum puts us centre stage,” said Watson.
“Institutions, museums like this can help to bring people back into our collective consciousness and underscore the role that people played. Visual representations are so important. You may read a bit, but a lot of what we read we tend to forget, what we hear we tend to forget. But what we see, the visual presentation remains with us about 85 or 90 per cent of the time. So in many respects I applaud this venture,” said Watson.