||Central Bank Of Barbados
Barbados’ newest heritage hub, “Exchange”, was officially opened at a ceremony held on April 29.
Exchange – a place of mystery and discovery, established as a major new heritage resource by the Central Bank of Barbados, features two permanent displays on the upper floors – one that chronicles the history of trade, commerce, and banking, and of its parent organization; and another that focuses on Freemasonry and education in the island’s early years – as well as an exhibition gallery space on the ground floor that will provide an exciting new space for temporary displays either curated in house or by invitation.
“Exchange is an interpretive centre that offers its visitors an interactive experience,” says Kevin Farmer, Deputy Director at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, which will have responsibility for the facility’s operations.
Farmer explained that the experience for patrons extends beyond the mounted displays: “History is not just to be found in the permanent exhibitions but also in the building itself. On each floor you will discover history about the building’s construction as well as interesting facts about the history of the city.” Exchange is located in the building that once housed the Harrison Free School, the precursor to Harrison College, before becoming the Barbados seat of Scottish and English freemasonry in 1870. The continued presence of this 18th century structure has been identified as a significant factor in the decision to designate Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison as a UNESCO World Heritage property.
Hartley Jordan, Deputy Director of Facilities Management at the Central Bank confirmed that both UNESCO and the Barbados National Trust were consulted in the restoration process. “Every effort was made to preserve the existing structure during the refurbishment.”
“This investment in our heritage and culture makes our tourism and international business more competitive, because it enriches the Barbadian experience and makes us special. Exchange is one more attraction for Barbadians to experience and enjoy, and to share with our visitors and guests. This adds even more lustre to the Bajan brand, which has always been admired,” Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Dr. DeLisle Worrell, commented on the occasion of the opening of the facility.
Attendees at the official opening were immersed in Bridgetown’s history as they were given a tour of Exchange and treated to performances by the Mighty Gabby and St. Paul’s Primary School, Harrison College Steel Pan Band, and the Barbados Landship Association.
Some members of the public will have previewed Exchange during the Fish and Dragon Festival back in February, when the facility hosted “Serious Play” an exhibition of work showcasing the art of acclaimed Cuban artist, Leandro Soto, Trinidadian Joshua Lue Chee Kong, and Barbadian up-and-comer, Versia Harris.
Exchange is located in Spry Street between St. Michael’s Cathedral and the Tom Adams Financial Centre. Opening hours will be 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday.