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A New View on History

On 5 August 2016, the long awaited Terramar Museum officially opened its doors.

On the 25th of May, 2015, the lease agreement between Terramar N.V. and the local government was signed. The historic building, well known as Van der Dijs, located on Kaya J.N.E Craane, housed the School of Music in the past. Terramar N.V. agreed to renovate the old building which is surrounded by the new Terramar building on the ocean front boulevard.

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Ruud Stelten, director and organizer of the museum, studied archeology at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and specialized in the colonial period of Caribbean archeology. Ruud went to Statia in 2009 for his internship. He was so enthusiastic about the island that after completing his studies in 2010, he returned to Statia once again. The archeologist on the island offered him his position. It was a cold autumn in the Netherlands and the financial crisis had slowed down the construction business, which is closely intertwined with archeological work, so many archeologists were out of a job. Ruud loved the island and immediately agreed to this unique offer.

Island archeologist

For 2 years, Ruud worked in Statia, organizing field placements for primarily Canadian and American students who wanted to learn more about archeology, researching and digging up archaeological artifacts. Another busy and interesting part of his work occurred after 10.10.10 when Statia became one of the three BES islands and new construction projects arose. With the new laws, every property had to be checked for archeological artifacts before any construction could proceed. The historical information had to be processed and the appropriate procedures to be followed had to be decided.


The island of Statia is very small and there was no possibility to further his career. He was approved by the University of Leiden to do his PhD thesis on the shipwrecks in the waters surrounding Statia. This was the perfect job for him. Locating shipwrecks and researching their history combined the two passions in his life, archeology and diving. However, ambitious and restless, Ruud was looking for more work. After a vacation in Mexico, he and his girlfriend visited Bonaire and fell in love with the island and decided to move.

New ideas

Freelancing as a dive instructor, Ruud, who was searching for more mentally challenging activities, couldn’t sit still and started to look for interesting, new projects. While searching for the island’s museum, he came to understand that the existing one was closed and a new goal started to take shape in his mind. Even though museums were not his field of expertise, his ideas and archeological knowledge made him start researching the possibilities. By sending out quote requests, calculating annual expenses and revenues, and questioning tourists about their interest and their willingness to pay, Ruud set up a complete business plan.

During this whole process, he needed to find a suitable location and became acquainted with Huub Groot, one of the partners in the Terramar project. After emails and a meeting, the Terramar partners became very interested in housing the new museum in the historical building they had promised to restore and which needed to be a public venue.

XpBonaire, Island life, terramar Museum , History, Culture, Information , News , Bonaire

The journey thru the Caribbean History

XpBonaire, Island life, terramar Museum , History, Culture, Information , News , Bonaire

Terramar Museum takes you on a journey through time and you can experience history like you never have before! Inside you will find a spectacular exhibition guiding you through 7,000 years of Caribbean and Bonairean history. Enter a world of fascinating artifacts, listen to long forgotten tales, and discover the past from a different perspective.

XpBonaire, Island life, terramar Museum , History, Culture, Information , News , Bonaire

The museum showcases the history of the Caribbean with Bonaire as the starting point. Beginning with its earliest colonization by the Indians and moving to more recent times, it includes slavery and the slave’s long journey to Bonaire as well as the trades, products, transport, religions, water connections between the islands and their way of living.


Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 6 pm

Phone 717 0432

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