Not just the Santa Maria anchor; Port au Prince museum’s many treasures


2262-thumb-222x222The Santa Maria’s anchor. Crowns of Haitian emperors. The bell that declared Haiti was free. The MUPANAH, or Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien in Port au Prince has many treasures, built up slowly from 1983.

I visited again just recently, to see an exhibition of Haitian-American artist Ulrick Jean–Pierre’s paintings. His style, I’m told, ranges from surrealism to traditional portraiture but the MUPANAH’s compelling series is devoted to the highpoints of Haitian history (and New Orleans’ culture).

Mr Jean-Pierre, this thumbnail sketch says, executes “florid paintings of historic Haitian milestones”. These include:

–       American ornithologist, the Les Cayes-born Jean-Jacques Audubon dreamily painting birds.

–       A portrait of Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable from Saint Marc, who is regarded as the first permanent resident of Chicago.

–       Frederick Douglass, the African-American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman, a former slave who went on to become the third US ambassador to Haiti.

My favourite though is not a strictly Haitian subject at all, an oil of Marie Laveau (see top right) a Louisiana practitioner of Vodou renowned in New Orleans.

Jack Kerouac

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac