The Museum and Gallery, incorporating Fort Hayes, is located at Fort Hayes and is divided in four sections:
The Main Museum
The Carriage House
Fort Hayes Magazine
Fort Hayes I will cover in a separate review– Fort Hayes. The remaining sites (within 50 metres of the Fort entrance) are packed with a range of exhibits covering every aspect of the Island’s history and life – especially since 1815, from which time the Island has been permanently inhabited. I will just list broad topics covered here and refer to a few specific items in the museum as I have covered a lot of the Island’s history in separate individual reviews. Topics, all very well covered by the museum include:
*The Island’s naval history and its relationship with the sea
*Ascension’s flora and fauna with an emphasis on green turtles – depicted above is a turtle shell turned into a US Forces honour board.
*The history of St Mary’s Church and other Island buildings
*The Island’s social history through collected artefacts – such as the medical equipment depicted above
*The USA and Ascension Island
*NASA – Tracking Station (including a US flag and patch from the Space Shuttle – Columbia)
*Ascension Island and the Falklands War (including a copy of the Argentine surrender document, depicted above)
*History of the Island’s Letterbox walks and completed message books from various walks
*Postal history of Ascension Island
*The BBC and Ascension Island
*Eastern Telegraph Company and Cable and Wireless
*A very large collection of old and not so old photographs
If you did any of the Island’s Letterbox walks and didn’t get a stamp on the walk you can obtain one here for free. The museum holds a complete collection of stamps. In addition it has a small selection of maps, historical books and other souvenirs on sale.
I absolutely recommend you visit the museum which is run by very knowledgeable and volunteer members of the Ascension Island Heritage Society – though the first lady I spoke to had just started that morning and knew nothing. By sheer coincidence I had dinner with the same lady that evening pursuant to an invitation from her husband whom I had befriended a couple of days earlier. That’s life in a small town of course – lucky I hadn’t launched an attack on her ignorance earlier in the day! Doubly lucky given that her husband was the Chief of Police!
The only problem with the museum is its extremely restricted opening hours as listed below – but easy to plan around.
Entrance Fee : GBP 2 – Pay at main museum building
Opening hours: Saturday mornings – 10.00 to noon and Tuesday evenings 5.00 to 7.00.