NMI Museum reopens

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(Press Release) — The NMI Museum is again open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday.

In response to the Covid-19 health emergency, the museum will observe social-distancing rules and allow 10 guests at a time.  All guests will go through a temperature check and must wear a face mask. 

Museum director Danny Aquino stated that the facility has 11 different stations for  different exhibits. Tour guide John Reyes set up the various stations, which provide key information and signs to help guests to navigate through. 

Aquino said the museum is a quiet place for guests to “de-stress.” There are no entrance fees. 

Upcoming budget cuts are going to be very challenging, he said.  The museum anticipates to lose its last tour guide, John Reyes. “Losing John will be very sad considering that we had two tour guides who were certified under the two-week Marianas Visitors Authority tour guide certification program conducted by Northern Marianas College,” Aquino said.

He said he reached out to lawmakers regarding the need for additional funding to address critical repairs and other areas of concern.  On June 18 he said the NMI Museum received $38,000 from the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation.

Aquino expressed his gratitude to all members of the Legislature for their continued support.  “The members of the House and Sens. Vinny Sablan and Sixto Igisomar understood our concerns and pledged to find additional funding,” Aquino said.

He noted that the museum building is 94 years old already and other critical projects like the Japanese-era bunker and the jail are also among the responsibilities of the museum.

The museum needs funding to preserve them, Aquino said, adding that the Japanese bunker is at risk of collapsing and must be repaired.

The NMI Museum has also reached out to the Historic Preservation Office, which received $5.1 million for the  repair of historical buildings.

But the museum was informed that the funding was already obligated for other projects. 

The museum also submitted a request for assistance to the Office of the Saipan Mayor  for tree cutting inside the Japanese jail. 

Aquino said, “The trees have become the inhabitants and prisoners of the Japanese jail.”

The NMI Museum, he added, continues to look for grant opportunities and legislative funding to preserve the Japanese jail by, among other things, building a roof on the structure.

Aquino and his staff attended a grant writing workshop three weeks ago that was conducted by the Grants Management Office.  John Reyes said it was a very helpful workshop and gave him a stronger confidence in writing a grant application.

He and Aquino had written three grant applications in a two-week period.

Recently, the NMI Museum was awarded a separate $15,000 grant that will help with the preservation and maintenance of its historical artifacts, Aquino said.

He added that the museum is now working on another grant application that  will be submitted by Monday, June 29, 2020.  This grant application and the previous one that was already submitted focus on digital innovation technology, Aquino said, adding that the Museum needs to catch up with the latest museum trends especially those involving digital technology.

“Through digital technology,” he added, “we hope to bring in our local residents, increase our traffic and entice new partnerships with various businesses such as Docomo, Joeten,  hotels and banks to help promote the museum.” 

Aquino said the museum is also grateful to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios for their support and confidence in his leadership. 



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