The NMI Museum is looking for $250,000 in order to build a new storage area as it currently lacks space for many ancient artifacts.
“At this point, we have used all available space for storage and we are almost at maximum capacity,” said NMI Museum director Daniel Aquino.
IT&E, the U.S. Department of Defense, and Saipan Shipping Co. last year donated to the museum three 20-foot containers that were modified to serve as storage for human remains and artifacts in the museum’s possession. According to Aquino, the containers were placed side by side to form a 600-foot room that could be used as a storage facility, office, or a temporary exhibit room. That available space is already used up.
Late last year, Aquino was informed that there might still be other museum belongings in the Kallingal building across the museum. Aquino later learned that the museum used to rent that space for the curator’s office and as partial storage but gave it up when the budget cuts hit the museum during the administration of former governor Benigno R. Fitial.
“There is still a significant amount of property belonging to the museum at the Kallingal building and we just have no place to store them. A good amount of property that were stored at the Kallingal building were eaten by termites or damaged by moisture,” said Aquino.
A tour of the Kallingal building showed that all the artifacts once stored there are now completely infested with termites and covered in mold and dust.
Artifacts included an ancient Chamorro canoe, photographs that date back to the Japanese era, Japanese army uniforms and war gear, artifacts obtained from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion, books on the history of the Concepcion, and remains of World War II soldiers.
“The property at the Kallingal building cannot be stored inside the museum because those items have been contaminated with termites and we run the risk of bringing those termites into the museum after we had just eradicated a termite colony within our building,” he said.
Aquino plans to create additional storage space by enclosing the pala pala behind the museum to store what is left of the artifacts that are too valuable to throw away, and for the documents that can still be salvaged from the Kallingal building.
“Storage is always going to be an issue with any museum and unfortunately the old Japanese hospital was never equipped with these things. To help with storage, I gave up my office and two other office spaces and procured shelves to store vases from the Concepcion collection that were just lying on our floors or transferred from the Kallingal building,” he said.
Fortunately, Aquino said that he has already received assurance from the House of Representatives in regards to their requested funding.