Finding A Home – Steelpan or Steelpan Painting?

The Steelpan, conceived by Joseph Charles at the Steelpan Museum, Trinidad and Tobago

What constitutes a gallery or museum space? Is it the white walls? The empty converted space? Or the love of one’s work? All of this is prevalent in the choices made by folk artist Joseph Charles who decided to do just that. Mr. Joseph has found a house with white walls and has called the space The Pan Museum. His work was first featured at the National Museum a few years ago with a colour catalogue. Not satisfied with the response to his work, Mr. Joseph decided to do something more. It was here that the museum came into being. Starting anything as serious as a gallery requires a great deal of planning, and Mr. Joesph has attempted to show a chronology of Pan history, using his work as the narrative. He also includes audio of famous and familiar calypso’s to go along with the images, as well as artifacts on many of the folk stories about Pan and Pan life.

A popular Mosque at “East Dry River,”Port of Spain, Trinidad

This is a tourist’s glance of Trinidad and Tobago’s culture though the classical landmarks interpreted by Joseph Charles, and his vignettes of the “Pan” experience are divided into six rooms where one or two paintings are displayed. To enhance the ambiance of each room, a few artifacts are placed such as a metal scratcher, green bottle and spoon.

(Salvatori) once the tallest building in Trinidad and Tobago with a vintage steeldrum and Fancy sailor costume at its side.

The gentleman walking us through the exhibition was quick to tell us that during Carnival, when they had the bulk of people coming to the museum, many foreign tourists and embassy people knew the stories he was trying to tell. He was quite surprised by how much non-Trinbagonians knew about the steelpan history. It made him aware that he would have to handle his own knowledge in a different way. All of this is very helpful t a new space like that. It means that after the initial idea, the museum must grow and change. But moreso, do so with much more relevant information and reference materials. After all, the story of pan is spreading daily and what people want to come to see is something much more than they already know. A growing museum is essential for pan historians and enthusiasts alike.

A kitsch postcard view of a small Caribbean island where a street parade introduces a musical instrument to the World called the steel drum.

Percussion instruments as part of the artifacts

For those of you who would like to go to the Pan Museum, there is a flat price of TT$60 per person. This may be a bit pricey, considering that the National Museum is free to the public. However we believe that this price can be negotiated down, particularly for schools and for the elderly. So make the trip to Mucurapo, St.James where the Pan Museum is on lease for two to three months. – Adele

See another rendering of the vision of the Steelpan as a wallpainting from an Artist, weed high and out of World

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