The UWI Museum opened with the UWI Regional Headquarters Building at Mona, Jamaica in June 2012. The idea of a university museum goes back many decades more, to the earliest plans for the then University College of the West Indies (UCWI).
The museum as it has emerged, focuses on the history and development of the university which was set up after World War 2, in the waning years of the British Empire, to serve the development needs of the then British West Indies and encourage regional understanding and cooperation. The current mission statement of the UWI still underscores this regional developmental focus:
To advance learning, create knowledge and foster innovation for the positive transformation of the Caribbean and the wider world.
The UWI Museum is unique in its focus on the regional institution’s history, presence and purpose. However, there are also subject-specialist museums and teaching collections within the wider university system that extends across the Caribbean, with four campuses: Mona, Jamaica, established 1948; St Augustine, Trinidad, established in 1961; Cave Hill, Barbados, initiated as a College of Arts & Science in 1963; Open Campus, established 2008 incorporating a wide range of extra-mural, distance and online programmes.
The Museum's Mission
It is our mission to research, recall, collect, conserve and interpret artifacts, texts and stories in all forms that illuminate the history, heritage and development of the UWI and reflect its continuing relevance to the region it serves.
Research: The UWI Museum undertakes primary and secondary research on aspects of the UWI’s history and impact. The University Archive and the UWI Library system are important research repositories for the UWI Museum.
Recall: An exciting aspect of our work is to seek oral and written recollections as well as memorabilia from groups such as alumni, former faculty and persons who grew up in the campus communities during various periods, privileging the oldest first.
Conserve: The museum is aware of the importance of conserving its collection. While there is no Conservator on staff, there is on-going collaboration with other relevant institutions to oversee the condition of artifacts.