The Smithsonian Institution’s Ripley Center in Washington, D.C. opened an exhibition of 100 paintings and drawings made in the aftermath of the January 12th earthquake by Haitian children. On view for the past two weeks and continuing through October, the show kicked off with the participation of Elisabeth Preval, wife of Haiti’s current president Rene Preval. She called it a reminder of the fact that Haiti still needs help.
Mrs. Preval wants the help of U.S. museum professionals and conservators in the recovery effort of Haiti’s visual heritage, she told the Associated Press news service. “This is fundamental for our nation,” said the First Lady of the Caribbean nation. “This is our cultural heritage. This is us…My dream and my hope is to make sure the world does not forget Haiti.”
While so much of the news has been bad about the earthquake’s effect on museums, galleries and private collections of Haitian art, there is one small bright spot. At least four of the murals done at mid-century in the Episcopal Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince survived this horrific natural disaster and can be saved. Private dollars from different sources are going toward this effort. The largest donation so far is $276,000 made by the trade association the Broadway League. Each of these entities gave $30,000 to the recovery project — the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.. The plan is for U.S. conservators to hand over the reins for most of this meticulous work to Haitian professionals by November, 2011.