From Tue Nov 5 22:00:06 2002
Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2002 20:13:39 -0600 (CST)
From: Bob Corbett <>
To: Haiti mailing list <>
Subject: 13575: Craig - Article: Haitian cultural treasures sought (fwd)

From: Dan Craig <>

Haitian cultural treasures sought

By Meghan Meyer, The Palm Beach Post, Tuesday 5 November 2002

DELRAY BEACH—When Greece demanded that the British Museum return ancient marble sculptures taken from the Parthenon, world leaders took notice.

Why shouldn't they, Joseph Bernadel wonders, do the same for Haiti?

Over years of economic and political turmoil, Haiti has lost much of its history—documents, photographs and art taken out of the country illegally.

Bernadel wants the museums and institutions to give them up—not to Haiti, but to the art and culture museum he plans in Delray Beach.

We would ask them to return to us to safeguard on behalf of the Haitian community, on behalf of the diaspora, Bernadel said.

These people may never go back to Haiti. Take a person like myself—I've been here 30 years, and I only return to Haiti on business. They could come here to enjoy the art and see a representation of themselves in history.

The Art Recovery Project is one of several programs Bernadel wants his museum to conduct. After two years of searching, he found a temporary home for the museum at the Toussaint L'Ouverture High School for Arts and Social Justice, which he oversees as one branch of the Center for Education, Training and Holistic Approaches.

The school is named for the 18th-century military leader who helped overthrow French rule in Haiti.

The collection, displayed in a small room and hallway cases, should open next month. Meanwhile, the paintings, sculptures and documents are stored at Bernadel's Boca Raton home and at other curators' homes in Washington, D.C.

The Art Recovery Project is a creative and much needed idea, said Marc Prou, executive director of the Haitian Studies Association at the University of Massachusetts' Boston campus. Other recovery projects have attempted to locate stolen money, but none that he knows of has focused on lost art.

He said he would like to see art returned to Haiti, but immigrants who have settled here need cultural capital, too.

It's definitely an interesting and very important project, Prou said. It's useful, original and very timely—at a time when the image of Haiti has been tarnished so much with Vodou, and now the boat people in Miami, this would inspire a different way of looking at Haiti, as an important contributor to culture, not as a basket case.

Prou hopes Bernadel will be able to find a permanent home for the museum and, most importantly, find a way to pay for it.

Bernadel said once he locates artwork the museum wants to buy, he likely will ask companies that do business with Haiti or employ Haitians to donate money to help the museum purchase it.