Franck A. Perret Museum of Saint-Pierre

Martinique Gets a New Face and Name

New York June 6, 2019

The Frank A. Perret Museum in Saint-Pierre is a memorial to the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Pelée on May 8, 1902, which took the life of close to 30,000 residents—only three survived, and that totally destroyed, what was at the time Martinique’s capital city. Saint-Pierre, which is located at the northwestern tip of the Isle of Flowers, was the island’s cultural and economic center, home to the main port. In the Caribbean this vibrant city was known as the “petit Paris” or the “Little Paris” of the Caribbean. Of course, Saint-Pierre was rebuilt and is now know as the “Little Pompeii.” Although it lost its place as the island’s capital and economic heart to Fort-de-France, this lovely town by the sea is still a vibrant center of culture and in particular of contemporary art.

Not five months ago, the museum was closed for an extensive renovation of its exterior and major expansion and reorganization of its collections. Recently re-opened early May this year, the museum now carries a second name: Memorial to the Catastrophe of 1902.

The memorial’s re-designed building boasts a sober and contemporary architecture that houses a new digitally enhanced scenography of its collections to be viewed and discovered with audio guides both in French and in English. The collection includes period photos and artifacts chronicling the life of the people of Saint-Pierre before, during and after the eruption. Visitors will see 432 artifacts, objects of every day and religious life that were recovered in the following decades and reconstruction of SaintPierre. The collection also has 28 new objects that have been discovered these recent years following construction work in the city or environs.

Complementing its historic collection the museum now has a moving new room that is dedicated to the victims of the explosion. Thanks to surviving records, the room walls are covered with the names of 7045 victims of the 1902 disaster.

“We have always been very proud of this museum and its poignant collections;” said Karine Mousseau, MartiniqueTourism Commissioner. She went on to say “and we are very proud and impressed by the renewal and expansion that was achieved in so short a time.”

The 1.5 million euro museum and memorial renewal was financed by the non-profit Culturabam, which is affiliated to the Clément Foundation.

The museum which was founded in 1933, is the idea of the self taught American volcanologist and engineer Frank A. Perret, who helped in the reconstruction of Saint-Pierre. This passionate man was adamant about collecting and preserving objects after the eruption—from volcanic rocks and stones, and melted artifacts that emerged from the hardened lava flows and ash.

Thanks to American Airlines, U.S. visitors will be among the first to visit the stunning Frank A. Perret Museum—Mémorial de la catastrophe. The airline is providing daily and and non-stop service from Miami to Fort-de-France, Martinique from Miami from June 7 to September 3, 2019.

For more information www.facebook.com/memorial1902 and www.memorial1902.org

Open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission: Adults: 8 euros, Children 7 to 17: 6 euros, Children under 7: free

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