After years of delays, Carlson Construction was awarded the contract to build the display cases for renovations to the Cinnamon Bay Lab.
The years-old plan to renovate the Cinnamon Bay Archaeology Lab may finally be coming to fruition.
Local contractor Carlson Construction has been awarded the contract to build the display cases, and V.I. National Park Archaeologist Ken Wild is now waiting for the National Park Service to award the contract for the remainder of the renovation. Wild anticipates work will begin in February 2011.
The historical building which currently serves as a working lab for VINP archaeologists and features some artifacts on display will be renovated to serve as an even better teaching tool for local teachers and their students, and tourists as well.
Once renovated, the archaeology lab at Cinnamon will feature rotating exhibits and exciting artifacts.
Exhibits will be changed out regularly, ensuring a different experience with each visit, and the lab will keep regular hours and be manned by interns, which are being funded by the Friends of the VINP.
“We’ll keep somebody in the lab all the time who will man and maintain it, and provide interpretation to the public,” said Wild. “We’ll change the museum techs out every two months, so we give as many of them the opportunity to work here as we can.”
Analysis of artifacts found in the park will continue at the museum, allowing students and other visitors a firsthand look at archaeologists at work.
Design for the renovations was donated by Barefoot Architects, and State Historic Preservation Office guidelines will be followed during the construction process. In addition to the installation of new display cases, new fans will be put in, electrical wiring will be reworked and windows will be installed.
Wild and his crew are already preparing the exhibits which will be on display at the lab. Local clay artist Gail Van de Bogurt will create Taino pots and other vessels based on fragments found at the Cinnamon Bay site.
“We’ll have Gail’s pieces on display for educational purposes, and we’ll bring out the actual fragments on special occasions,” said Wild. “We’re trying to help people conceptualize the whole piece.”
Another visual tool the VINP archaeologist will use to educate visitors on the history of St. John is a video by Bill Stelzer which is currently in the works.
“The film will be showing all the time, taking you through different time periods and showing artifacts and the sites where we found them,” said Wild.
Artifacts on display will take visitors through the entire history of St. John, from 8000 BC, when humans first arrived on the island, through post-Emancipation.
“We’re just going to map out the history using what we’ve found archaeologically around the island through time,” said Wild.
Metal artifacts found at sea will also be displayed along with pottery shards. St. John residents can bring artifacts they’ve found on their properties to date them.
“We really hope we can bring the history of the island in a good, logical, presentable timeline so everybody can see what us humans have been doing on this island for the last 7,000 years,” said Wild.