A visit to Jean P. Haydon Museum in American Samoa

Dec 11, 2019Lifestyle

A little throwback photo journal from October 14, 2019, which was Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Ian and I both didn’t have work because thankfully, it’s still a federal holiday (I need all the holidays I can get!), and since there was a cruise ship in town, we decided to play tourist and finally visit our island’s only museum, the Jean P. Haydon Museum.

About the Jean P. Haydon Museum

Located in Fagatogo, across from the US Post Office, the museum was opened in 1971 and named after the wife of the governor at the time, John Morse Haydon. His wife’s name was Jean P. Haydon. It was dedicated by the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead, who had written the book “Coming of Age in Samoa” whilst living in Ta’u, Manu’a.

The building is recently renovated, which has some controversy behind it, because the old building (listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1972) was fully demolished last year for a whole new rebuild. And as a historic building, that didn’t play out too well with some people. Anyway… while the renovation has since been completed, the museum is still not officially opened to the public, according to a museum board member who we had talked to a few days later. At the time of writing, the museum is only open when there are visiting cruise ships in port, which is about once a month depending on the month. The museum has free entry, and accepts donations.  

Inside the museum, you’ll find old traditional artifacts on display that include va’a (canoes), tatau (tattoo), NASA mementos dating back to the Apollo missions, and natural resource items like coral and turtle shells. One of my favorite things to look at is a moon rock, which was gifted to the territory during the Apollo lunar missions, as well as the American Samoa flag that was taken to the moon by Apollo 11 in 1969, and gifted back to the territory by President Richard Nixon. I didn’t see either the moon rock or the moon flag when we went to visit the museum, but it makes sense that they don’t have it out just yet since it’s still a work in progress.

 

After the museum, Ian and I walked over to the cruise ship vendor stalls and I bought some handmade Christmas ornaments for my sister, then we went to the National Park office to finally get our NPS passport stamped after all these years, and sat at the park across the street to hang out for a bit. It was a full on tourist-y staycation day for us, but I loved every bit of it.

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