The idea of transforming the former Military Headquarters and jail of Liberia into a museum is simply beautiful. And this is not just any museum, is the Museo de Guanacaste. Nonetheless, after a recent visit we got the impression that such great idea emerged during a political campaign, on paper, without funding, clueless in regards to how to manage a museum, and with complete lack of long term vision. Just look at the picture taken this past Saturday January 10 of 2015.
The Museo de Guanacaste is very important and has great potential. From its history to its architecture, the building is gorgeous and has great value. Furthermore, it is located on the main entrance to the city of Liberia. One could think that you couldn´t ask for more, but the truth is that the museum needs a little bit of love.
We are sure there are great plans for the museum, and that in the course of a month it will have improved greatly. Yet, while a meeting takes place, and they decide what to do and how to do it, we have decided to make a few basic suggestions. We hope the commission in charge of the Museo considers such suggestions, and we hope they don´t file them in the corner of the building, right below where it says “Primer Pelotón” (First Platoon):
1. Planning. It would be ideal to have a one year working plan. This plan could consider a minimum of one different exhibition every month. ICE has provided an example with their current display about the history of electricity generation in Guanacaste. In addition, a monthly activity would bring life to the museum and, why not, some income. With proper planning, a concert or a dance will become successful activities. We have seen lots of people attending this type of activities at Santa Rosa National Park, like the Christmas concert last 18 of december at La Casona. In terms of location, the Museo de Guanacaste has a great advantage since it is closer than going all the way to Santa Rosa.
2. Signs. Simple. We could start by taking the main sign at the entrance and place it in the correct position. Right now, the sign reads “Museo de Guanacaste” and it is upside down. To be honest, the impression visitors get today is disastrous.
3. Customer service. The people at the main access gate should be capable of responding questions, even if they are only a few and very simple. For example, when was the facility built, what was it used for and during what years?, what exhibits and activities will take place this week, amongst others. When we finished our visit and were leaving the museum, a gentleman arrived on a bike and kindly offered us a tour. He said he was a policeman, and that he was just about to start his shift. We loved this gentleman´s attitude, but this is no job for one person.
4. Cleaning. Any effort would be good for now. Sweeping the floor at least three times a week, even if it is only the exhibition rooms and the bathrooms. If we could ask for more, then it would be nice if someone would mop the floor, at least with water.
5. Exhibitions. If lack of funds is the cause of all these problems at Museo de Guanacaste, self-guided tours could be a great option (besides the fund raisin activities we suggested).
6. Professional help. Having the guidance of a museologist is key. We know the Ministry of Culture has this type of professionals, let us please use them, the entire Guanacaste is pledging for them.
It has been very difficult to complete this article, specially since our visit to the Museo de Guanacaste hurt our pride. The conditions under which we found the Museo, will certainly add bitterness to our words. It is clear that the Museo de Guanacaste is a rock that wishes to become a diamond. We know it because the museum caught our eye and told us.
By Roy Prendas Álvarez | [email protected]
Director-fundador de OLIVAfilms, empresa guanacasteca de comunicación para divulgación científica y cultural. Costarricense guanacasteco.