Since the 12 of January earthquake in Haiti, and though it remains very difficult to gather reliable data on the damages caused to Haitian heritage, ICOM, through its Disaster Relief for Museums Task Force (DRFM), its Secretariat and its national committees - especially those located close to the disaster site such as the Dominican Republic and the Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC) - is making every effort to get in touch with its Haitian colleagues, assess damages and consider the most appropriate actions to be taken. This process is still ongoing.

Urgent Need for Haiti heritage
by Crisis unit « Patrimoine en Danger » / 26 January 2010 / summary

This report summarizes the needs expressed by Crisis Unit “Patrimoine en Danger” to conduct the most urgent emergency operations for all types of heritage sites and objects. The Blue Shield partners are actively working on this list and on the most efficient way of giving adequate support to our friends and colleagues from Haiti.

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Damaged Museums - General Information

1. Personnel

ICOM was able to contact some of its members and make sure they were safe, but has no information yet on the remaining members. Below is the list of the members we could reach so far:
- Joseph Harold GASPARD, ICOM Haiti Chairman
- Michel-Philippe LEREBOURS General Curator and Vice–President of the College Saint Pierre Haitian museum of fine arts
- Michaelle Auguste SAINT-NATUS, from the Cane Sugar Historical Park.

2. Buildings
ICOM provides below a status on the museums that we could gather information about. Most of this data needs in situ cross-checking and should be considered cautiously. ICOM is still gathering and checking data on the remaining twelve Haitian museums or museums projects.

Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien
Place des Héros de l’Indépendance, Port-au-Prince Ouest:

Though we do not have eyewitness accounts to confirm this, analysis from satellite footage and from an architect familiar with the building leads us to believe that the mainly subterranean concrete structures should have resisted the earthquake.
Musée d’art haïtien
Champs de Mars, Angle Rues Légitime et Capois, Port-au-Prince:
Michel-Philippe LEREBOURS General Curator and Vice–President of the College Saint Pierre Haitian museum of fine arts provides a direct account: “The Art Museum is still intact, but in a very fragile condition. The exhibition hall is still standing, but we do not dare to enter - but at least the ceiling seems to be stable. The back end of the building is in a better condition. Everything possible has to be done to consolidate the exhibition hall to a degree that allows entry in order to rescue the paintings and other objects. Above all, the museum has to be protected from any looting because it holds the most important collection of Haitian painting.” [Musée Vaudou] Collection Marianne Lehmann
Pétion-Ville, abords de Port au Prince:
The Lehmann Collection is the largest collection worldwide of Haitian Voodoo objects.
About 350 exhibits are safe because they are being displayed in Europe. The majority of the collection (more than 2,000 objects) is still in Haiti, stored in a relatively safe place. The building has been seen in an interview that Marianne Lehmann gave for Swiss TV on 17 January, 2010.
Musée de Guahaba
No damage to this museum.3. The Collections
We do not have accurate status on the collections so far. As for the buildings, direct reports are scarce and the local humanitarian and security situation still critical. Moreover, the scattering of heritage objects between museums, public and private buildings make it even more difficult to have an accurate picture of the collections of Haitian cultural objects.
It is certain that even in the less damaged building - such as, apparently, the National Museum, the Parc historique de la Canne à Sucre or the storage facility of the Voodoo Museum, collections suffered, sometimes lightly, from the earthquake. The risk of looting is now the immediate threat to the collections. Indirect reports state that in some situations, neighbours and volunteers rescued some cultural objects from different institutions (public or private). Though often very brave and spontaneously generous, such an attitude makes it very difficult to assess the collection status and to locate objects.
Musée d’art haïtien
An eyewitness, Michel-Philippe LEREBOURS, reports that “The collections are preserved”.

[Musée Vaudou] Collection Marianne Lehmann
We have indirect reports that some objects fell and were broken.

Parc historique de la Canne à sucre
Puerto Principe

Michaelle Saint-Natus, a member of this heritage institution, reports that “two chimneys collapsed, two roofs on dependency buildings collapsed. Repairs have begun on those roofs, Other repairs are proving to be much more complex and expensive. Financial support and expertise will be, as in so many places, very welcome.
Michaelle Saint-Natus also reports that “display cabinets, lockers and cultural objects have been damaged”.