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by johany falcon
jersey city, New Jersey
July 11, 2008
by Jose Kevo
March 23, 2005
At a cost of US$200 million, Faro a Colón is a haphazard blemish, looking like a cap-sized cruise ship blown ashore during hurricane season! What the seven-story museum supposedly features, compared to what you'll actually find, is almost as pitiful as nearby impoverished residents concealed behind barriers so visitors don't have to see them.
The entry facade contains relevant scripture and quotes framed within concrete blocks, summarizing rather well how the world and its people changed forever once the Europeans arrived. Admission is RD30/US$1, and next to the entry are numerous prayer chapels honoring appropriate Catholic saints. Beyond the towering altar centralized in the apex, patrons are on their own with no directions or brochures.
Two wings are interaccessible on the ground level, allowing visitors to pass from side to side. Floors above each wing are only reachable by stairwells, and the elevator wasn't working. There was little use for either, since only half-floors were currently open with displays.
The first floor, left of the entry, is a tribute to countries in the Americas memorializing indigenous peoples explorers all but annihilated. I was engrossed, comparing exhibits to like being on the ultimate fieldtrip for my Latin American cultural studies, but without knowledge or interest, most will likely feel rather lost. Information was only in Spanish, which included forbidding use of flash photography. Artifacts were hard to see in the darkened interior; smothering stuffiness guaranteed to make quick work of viewings. At wing's end is a gift shop with overpriced junk, and a small snack bar.
Working back-to-front across corridor in the other wing, out of place displays for Japan and China gave way to rooms featuring European countries that vied for expedition positions while dividing-up territories in the New World. To no surprise, Spain and Columbus dominated exhibits. But as Planet's guidebook clearly states, maps, documents and drawings are all copies; not original as signs claim.
A morbid interest for seeing the tomb which Dominicans claim enshrines Columbus's remains was nowhere to be accessed. After hiking stairwells on both wings, only two-thirds of the second floor on the right was open. Maritime enthusiasts will appreciate these displays, but of greatest interest were drawings of submitted designs for the proposed monument, and wondering why present monstrosity was chosen.
The structure is built in shape of a Latin Cross. Floodlights bordering roof cast a haunting image of the cross on overcast nights, yet another controversial expense while most of the capital sits in the dark for hours based on rolling apagones/brown-outs for conserving energy.
If you're driving, there's a large parking lot on the north. Taxis can only be hailed from the front entry plaza where long walkways lead to museum entrance. Expect to pay RD100 if coming from/heading to nearby Los Tres Ojos or El Acuario.
From journal Legacy Lullabies: Rocking the New World's Cradle