On February 19, 2007 the National Trust of Guyana formally opened the Dutch Heritage Museum [DHM] at Fort Island, Essequibo River. It was established to showcase various aspects of the nation’s earliest colonizers.
This museum is housed in the Court of Policy Hall which is believed to be the oldest non-military structure in Guyana. In 2000 the National Trust commenced a major restoration project to restore Fort Zeelandia and the Court of Policy Hall. This required the restoration of the roof, new windows, doors and other infrastructural works to enhance the visitor experience. The Dutch Heritage Museum is a unique symbol of our history so we encourage its preservation for future generations to access and enjoy. Today, the Dutch Heritage Museum stands as an eloquent reminder of our nation’s heritage.
Construction of this brick edifice commenced in 1744 when the governor of Essequibo Laurens Storm van Gravesande appealed to the Dutch West India Company for permission to construct a church for the colonists of Essequibo.
Measuring forty feet in width and sixty feet in length, this brick building was probably completed in 1752 as Gravesande wrote to the Company for funds for the acquisition of furniture and windows. During the 18th century this structure was used for many purposes. On Sundays it was used as a place of worship and during the week it performed the services of a Court House and Vendue Office.
After the opening of Demerara in 1746 Fort Island’s importance as the seat of government for the colony of Essequibo and Demerara declined. In the circumstance Fort Zeelandia and the Court of Policy Hall were later neglected and fell into ruin.
The task of preserving and enhancing Guyana’s natural and cultural heritage extends far beyond the simple preservation of landscapes and monuments. Against a rapidly changing landscape there is an increasing need for the Trust to stimulate among Guyanese awareness of their cultural heritage, particularly here , its Dutch colonial legacy.
To conserve and promote the nation’s Dutch legacy for the benefit of the present and future generations to access and enjoy.
The role of the Museum is to display artifacts, objects and information on the Dutch history of Guyana to promote a greater understanding of this aspect of the nation’s heritage.
The Dutch Heritage Museum is managed under the auspices the National Trust of Guyana. The day to day management is the responsibility of the Caretaker, Ms. Clara Mittelholzer, who functions under close supervision of the Chief Executive Officer of the National Trust of Guyana. There is also a security guard responsible for the security of the museum premise and all the exhibits on a daily basis.