NMI Museum turns old Japanese lab into gift shop


The former World War II-era Japanese laboratory is being repurposed into a gift shop and coffee shop. (Contributed Photos)

Repairs to a former World War II-era Japanese laboratory on Saipan would soon be finished, completing its transition into a tourist-targeted coffee and gift shop.

CNMI Museum executive director Danny Aquino announced Thursday that repairs to the museum-owned building is nearly complete and it would soon be repurposed to help generate revenue for the museum.

“The repairs were necessary to prevent further deterioration and to preserve the historical building as well as safeguard the visitors that visit it…daily,” Aquino said.

The CNMI Museum itself used to be a Japanese hospital, hence the presence of the adjacent laboratory.

“The completion of the Japanese laboratory building comes at a very important time when our proposed fiscal year 2020 budget may see up to a 53-percent cut, which will seriously hamper our operations. With the addition of the coffee shop and gift shop, we hope to generate additional revenue,” Aquino noted.

“We are pleased with the overall repairs to the building and are receiving lots of positive comments from our guests and the public,” he added.

According to Aquino, the museum obtained funding for the repairs from a Marianas Visitors Authority grant. He also expressed gratitude to the MVA board and staff for the project.

“Following the completion of the repairs we will begin to construct temporary huts to provide a venue for local artists to teach, display, and sell local products to our guests. I have reached out to the secretary of Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, the directors from the Arts Council, Chamorro Indigenous Affairs, and Carolinian Affairs Offices, who have all expressed support,” he added.

With the completion of the building, some of the outdoor grounds of the NMI Museum would also serve as a venue for the 2019 MVA annual membership meeting this May 2019, as well as the 75th anniversary of World War II this June 2019.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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