Making history: Among the JJ Outerbridge collection of historic memorabilia was this photo of Winston Churchill’s visit to Bermuda. Every year the National Museum receives dozens of public donations like this. *Photo courtesy of the National Museum
Making history: Among the JJ Outerbridge collection of historic memorabilia was this photo of Winston Churchill’s visit to Bermuda. Every year the National Museum receives dozens of public donations like this. *Photo courtesy of the National Museum
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Every year the National Museum receives dozens of donations that give a unique insight into the island’s rich history.

Some have come from far beyond the island’s shores in remote corners of New Zealand, the UK and even Cyprus.

While many of these historic gems suddenly surface when the estates of deceased islanders are finally settled.

This year, more than 40 individuals have donated items ranging from shipwright tools to old photographs.

And earlier this summer the museum received an incredible collection of slides, scrapbooks and pictures from the estate of JJ Outerbridge.

The memorabilia gives a rare insight into some of the most significant events to happen in Bermuda between the 1950s and 1970s including the visit of the Queen and Winston Churchill. 

National Museum Curator Elena Strong told the Bermuda Sun: “The local community and overseas ‘Bermudaphiles’ play an important role in preserving Bermuda’s cultural heritage when they donate objects to the collection of the National Museum of Bermuda.

“The majority of donations are unsolicited: from history-conscious individuals who contact the Museum about Bermuda-related objects and documents that they believe to have interest and significance.

“Some of the gems of the collection have been acquired this way, and recent acquisitions have come from as far afield as New Zealand and Cyprus, and as close to home as Dockyard.”

Over the years the museum has been given an array of donations including a rare 19th-century French map of Bermuda showing navigational hazards and a 19th century Portuguese trunk used to immigrate to Bermuda.

It has also received a complete Dockyard police uniform from the 1950s, Second World War ration cards, Bermuda Railway items, and family papers relating to a local pilot purchasing the freedom of his wife from slavery in 1832. 

In July the Sun reported how a father and daughter from England donated a small collection of handmade shipwright tools that were first used in Dockyard over a century ago by an ancestor.

Ms Strong praised those who had donated to the National Museum.

Cultural significance

She added: “All have entered the collection because individuals recognized the cultural significance of the material and wanted to ensure its long-term preservation in the public domain. 

“Every year numerous individuals come forward with items related to Bermuda’s cultural heritage and it is through these generous donations that the Museum collections grow and become ever more diverse and more reflective of Bermuda’s cultural heritage.   

“The Museum acts as the custodian of the artifacts, taking on the responsibility of caring for, researching, documenting, conserving, making accessible and preserving for future generations.”