An Admirable Restoration Project

Okay.  So I admit we didn’t do all the research we probably should have done before heading off on a short holiday in Curacao a couple of weeks ago.  And, yes, we regret that lack of research. No doubt, we’d have seen some things, or taken in some events that would have even further enhanced our visit.

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Instead we just arrived on the island and followed our noses as tourists.  And that has some value, too.    One unexpected, unresearched surprise happened while we were wondering around the Otrobanda quarter of Willemsted.  We turned a corner and discovered the Kura Hulanda Museum complex.

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This complex is an exquisitely resorted group of 15 buildings and their accompanying streets, alleys and public squares.  It now houses a “village spa and hotel” (complete with the casino which almost seems to be a required feature in the major hotels of Curacao), coffee shops, restaurants, and a significant museum.

IMG_5131The credit for this interesting development goes Dutch businessman, Jacob Gelt Dekker.  If I have the story right, he acquired an abandoned, old building and set to renovating/restoring it.  In the process, he discovered it’s connection to the early Caribbean slave trade. It was the site of a former slave yard and merchant’s home. He was so moved, that he changed his plans and made turned the building into a museum: which now houses the largest African collection in the Caribbean. Unfortunately for us, the museum had closed just 5 minutes (!!!) before we discovered it. This is where a little prior research would have served us well.

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After just 10 months of construction, the museum opened in April 1999. He then worked to acquire the surrounding buildings to create the complex which now span more than 16,000 square feet of neighbourhood. The name Kura Hulanda translates from Papiamentu (the local dialect) to mean Dutch Courtyard.

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It was absolutely delightful to walk through the lanes and discover museum displays, murals and admire the beautiful architecture and imagine life in this area back during the colonial days of Curacao.  That said, I daresay what we experienced was a cleaner, even brighter version of the original.

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The mission of the Museum Kura Hulanda is to acquire and exhibit collections related to the cultural identity of the people of Curacao, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Rim. I was impressed by this excellent example of urban restoration which perfectly marries form with function. What a way to preserve built heritage! Admirable!!

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WPC – Admiration

 

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14 thoughts on “An Admirable Restoration Project

  1. Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread May 2, 2016 / 9:15 pm

    Sometimes ‘going with the flow’ is best anyway. It looks like you had a great visit and you provided me an opportunity to google and see where exactly Curacao is on the map because geography was never my best subject. A day when I learn something (or at least am reminded) is a good day. 🙂

    • JanetRimmington May 2, 2016 / 9:32 pm

      You and me, both! 😀 I must confess … Not did I not know where Curaçao was (before we planned the trip), it took a while for me to learn how to pronounce it.

  2. neospective May 2, 2016 / 9:23 pm

    This place is just beautiful. So colorful and warm 🙂

    • JanetRimmington May 2, 2016 / 9:33 pm

      Thanks! It is warm. Very, very, very warm …… Boarding on hot. 😉

  3. Osyth May 3, 2016 / 3:28 pm

    the research vs nose debate is always hot in our household and our jury is permanently out. It looks to me as though you found an absolute gem in this restoration project and I can only thank you for sharing it and tell you that I am researching Curacao immediately as a place I had never considered but rather think I should!

    • JanetRimmington May 3, 2016 / 5:57 pm

      I think you should, too! Ha! You made me smile today! The “research v. nose debate”. Yes!! It’s real thing! Thanks! I hope you are enjoying this long, slow Spring.

      • Osyth May 3, 2016 / 6:40 pm

        My husband told me Spring is over in a heartbeat here so
        I’m surprised and delighted that it’s decided to take the slow burn this year … Though the fluctuating temperatures have me wardrobe challenged daily!!!

      • JanetRimmington May 3, 2016 / 6:43 pm

        There’s an old saying, that our seasons are “10 months of winter and 2 months of hard sledding”. 😉 But we know that’s not true…..

      • Osyth May 3, 2016 / 6:44 pm

        But of course not ….

  4. Julie@frogpondfarm May 3, 2016 / 6:45 pm

    Wonderful images .. A grand restoration project. Sure deserves admiration!

    • JanetRimmington May 7, 2016 / 11:36 pm

      Thanks Julie!! After passing by a number of crumbling, abandoned buildings this “development” really was a welcome surprise. It is heartening to see a neglected neighbourhood turned into “contributing member of society”.

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