Newsday learnt that Knowsley was to be taken over by the National Museum and the Foreign Affairs Ministry relocated to the government campus on Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.
Foreign Affairs Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon was asked about this via a written question in the Parliament yesterday and said about a month ago Cabinet made a decision that Knowsley should house the museum, which has been sited at upper Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain. She said the ministry will be moved to the International Financial Centre (IFC) tower with the Ministry of Energy. The IFC is one of the buildings at the Port-of-Spain International Waterfront.
Speaking to Newsday during the tea break of the House of Representatives yesterday, Gopee-Scoon said, “the rationale is to have all the cultural centres located together in the same vicinity so you have the National Academy for Performing Arts. Then you’ll have the museum, and then the administrative buildings related to culture and the National Cultural Centre which is also planned.”
She said the move to the new space will be an impetus for the museum which has been in the same location for several years. Gopee-Scoon said the relocation to Knowsley will bring new life to the museum. She described Knowsley as a “wonderful historical building. The building in itself belongs to a museum.”
Gopee-Scoon said the refurbishment of Knowsley cost more than $20 million for the front and about $25 million for the back which includes a new wing.
During the renovations, departments of the ministry were relocated to two locations: 6A Queen’s Park West (the Minister’s office, Permanent Secretary, Treaties International Agreements and Legal Division etc) and Sunjet House (Deputy Permanent Secretary, Caricom and Caribbean Affairs Division and other departments). Gopee-Scoon said the original intention was for the ministry to return to Knowsley after the renovations. She did not know the details of what will be done with the museum building which also was of historic value.
“I imagine that too will be refurbished and used for something cultural as well.”
Gopee-Scoon said staff of the ministry have been notified and given reasons for the change. She was confident that there was adequate parking for staff at the IFC. “Those coming from the east will be very pleased they don’t have to go into the city.”
Newsday learnt that no time frame has been given for when the ministry will move to the IFC.
Knowsley was acquired by the government in 1956 for $250,000 and was used to house offices of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.