Historical Museum in Fort Zoutman Building

Historical Museum in Fort Zoutman Building

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Centuries ago, when settlement was permitted by the Dutch, Paarden Baai (Horses Bay) in Oranjestad became an intermediate harbor for trade between Curaçao and Venezuela. For protection against pirates and enemies, Fort Zoutman, Aruba’s oldest building, was built in 1798, and, due to commercial growth, Oranjestad was named Aruba’s capital. The fort, named after Dutch Rear Admiral Johan Arnold Zoutman who never stepped foot on Aruba but defeated the English in the North Sea, did ward off an English attack in 1799. The Willem III Tower was built in 1868 and first lit on King Willem III’s birthday; it served as both a lighthouse and public clock tower. After 95 years, the light in the tower was extinguished in 1963. Over the years, it has housed government office, a police station, jail, tax office, courtroom, library and post office. Today, the restored fort and tower house the Historical Museum, opened in 1984. It is proud symbol of Aruba’s national heritage and a fitting place to hold the Bon Bini Festival every Tuesday evening (6:30 – 8:30 pm) celebrating the island’s culture and history. The museum is involved in many ongoing projects aimed at creating a close link with the educational system. The collection is mostly made up of donations from citizens, such as the special private collection of historical documents of Richard Beaujon. The exhibit depicts the history and development of Aruba up to the 1920’s when the LAGO oil refinery came to Aruba. Ongoing activities include group visits to the museum with explanation by multi-lingual museum guides; rental of the patio for celebration of special occasions; and Legacy Tours for groups, a walking tour through the city of Oranjestad, highlighting monuments and other musea. The museum is open from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and after hours or on weekends upon special request for groups. The museum is frequently visited by schools, tourists and locals.

(Source: www.aruba.com)

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