Environmental vs Cultural Conservation
Although at first glance Environmental Conservation and Museum Conservation seem like separate practices, they are in fact just two sides of the same coin. The trajectory of human history and culture depends on the environment, defined here as the land, air, water, fauna, and flora that make up our natural surroundings. Many past societies understood the need to respect these surroundings and grow with them instead of depleting them. This is especially the case when looking at Bermuda.
Since its first interactions with humans, Bermuda’s environment had an undeniable effect on its history; from the cries of the Cahow leading sailors to think of it as the ‘Isle of Devils’, to the reefs that facilitated a culture of piloting and salvage. In turn Bermudians shaped their landscape, somehow enabling a small archipelago to sustain a population that rapidly began to outgrow it. Bermuda’s conservation laws, some of the earliest in the new world, reflect a society that understood the need for sustainable living. As we move into a time where the necessity for conservation is gaining more recognition globally, Bermuda has a chance to reclaim some of its past success.
As BUEI’s Exhibits and Collections Coordinator I am perfectly placed to use the emblems of Bermuda’s past to explore environmental issues. Through collaboration with BUEI’s Education Department and our Eco-Schools Bermuda program I get the opportunity to promote the connection between the conservation of culture and that of nature. This series of blog posts explores the connection between culture and environment, from the fishponds that once characterized Bermuda’s coast, to the shipwrecks that have merged with our reefs to become important maritime habitats.