By Lourdes Ranero

MAC has many sister organizations around the globe. In this feature, we are pleased to share more information about one of them and the important work they are doing in the region. Meet the Alliance of Museums of Puerto Rico.

In 2002, a group of museum professionals in Puerto Rico took the initiative to create an association that would bring together the different existing museums on the island in order to provide better conditions for the protection, preservation, conservation, and dissemination of tangible and intangible heritage. Out of 48 museums, 36 were affiliated with the Association of Museums of Puerto Rico, creating a strong collaborative network among museums. Led by Dr. Lourdes Ramos as its president, it was immediately endorsed by the island’s former Governor Luis A. Ferré and cultural anthropologist Ricardo Alegría, both key figures in Puerto Rican cultural heritage and its conservation. The AMPR developed seminars, conferences, and other training and cultural activities to promote, stimulate, and support all actions aimed at a greater knowledge of culture and the different contributions of museums and cultural institutions in Puerto Rico.

Among the projects developed and subsidized with funds assigned by the Special Joint Commission of the Legislative Fund, the AMPR, with Sandra Cintrón Goitía as its manager, began a pilot project called PR XXI: Virtual Archive for the Cultural Heritage of the Museums of Puerto Rico. Its mission was to standardize the collection and registration of museums’ cultural assets and put them together in a digital archive with the aim of protecting and disseminating the legacy of Puerto Rican culture. In the first phase of the project, 15 museums participated. In May 2004, as part of the educational projects of the Assembly of the Association of Museums of Puerto Rico, the Association jointly organised a visit of then-president and director of the Louvre Museum, Henri Loyrette, with the Municipality of San Juan, during which Loyrette gave a presentation at the Museum of San Juan entitled “Reconstruction, present and future of the Louvre Museum.”

Through the years and tempered by changes, the AMPR has changed its modality but not its aim to continue preserving, conserving, and disseminating the rich and varied cultural heritage of Puerto Rico. Marianne Ramírez Aponte, the AMPR’s current president, is very clear about its goals: to continue paving the way by promoting education and community service among broad audiences in relation to the conservation of cultural and natural heritage, by offering educational experiences and professional training to museologists and students while simultaneously advocating to promote, educate, formulate, and intercede in the establishment of cultural policies and in the raising of funds that ensure the viability of the cultural sector.

Among the changes, the entity changed its name to the Alliance of Museums of Puerto Rico, as well as its graphic brand, its organizational structure, and the scope of its action radius through collaborations with the Puerto Rican diaspora and the international museum community. In this last regard, the AMPR created eight cultural regions that function and are sustained through the participation of a group of professionals from museums and other branches, including academics, scientists, and cultural managers located within and outside of Puerto Rico.

Currently, the AMPR represents over 100 museums located around the island. A large number of these institutions have been and continue to be affected in their infrastructure and educational programming due to different factors and constant challenges resulting from lack of funds, numerous changes, lack of participation and support from the government, natural disasters, and most recently the global COVID-19 pandemic that occurred at the beginning of 2020 and that continues to affect the island today, causing many of these institutions to remain closed and limiting their capacity to raise funds for their future sustainability.

The AMPR has not stood idly by and has fought a tough battle to continue developing strategies and support tools for institutions along with the rescue and protection of Puerto Rico’s cultural heritage. The AMPR will soon be publicising new activities that are being developed. On the website, you can find additional information on how to become part of the AMPR and support them in their mission in favour of Puerto Rican culture.