There is something unique and perhaps different about Peter Joseph World War II Memorial Museum at Munda, Western Province, compared to museums elsewhere.
First, it is perhaps the only museum in the region that you’ll find mostly personal items of soldiers who fought in WWII.
Secondly, these items were not labelled or captioned as is the standard practise in any museum.
Owner Barney Paulsen has his own reasons for keeping things that way.
“I decided not to label or provide captions for the items so that they keep the visitors guessing while visiting,” Paulsen told the Sunday Star.
“I wanted the tourists or visitors to come and be amazed at the collections,” he added.
“I wanted them to hold the items, observe them, and if they wanted to know what it is, then they can ask me.
“That’s when I can provide an explanation about that particular item.
“I feel like explaining things verbally, than writing them, because when you talk about a particular item, a person can understand it better than just reading a short label.”
The number of visitors calling at the museum varies.
According to Paulsen, it depends on how many tourists are visiting Munda to dive, as well as others coming in via Fatboys at Gizo and expats from Soltuna, as well as tourists brought in by Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau.
He said this year, he had a higher number of visitors, including some students from the United States.
Paulsen said he hopes the opening of Munda International Airport will bring in more visitors to his establishment.
“I hope landowners will settle their issues so that the international airport can have consistent flights.
“Like other areas in the country, the airport and its vicinity is one of the most discussed areas amongst tribes in Munda.”
Paulsen observed that locals started to see the potential with the realization that an international landing field is at their door step.
“Let me say it like this, in the name of development things people may not expect will show up, that’s development.
“Do something, don’t sit there.”
He recalled that he started the small museum from scratch.
“When I was collecting these old rusty WWII items, people laughed and joked about me.
“They made remarks that were quite offending as well.
“But now they realised that tourists are lining up in front of my small museum and that I am now earning an income from this small set.”
Paulsen also revealed that because he took an initiative to start up something, tourism authorities approached him with offers of funding, unlike others who tried their best to acquire funds.
Visitors to the Museum will have the chance to reflect also on the experiences of the soldiers during the WWII.
Paulsen preserves dice and marbles, an indication that soldiersloved to play and do social things when they are not in combat.
Another interesting thing is he also preserves syringes used by soldiers to stitch up their wounds.
Paulsen started Peter Joseph World War II Memorial Museum after he found a Dog tag at Munda bearing the name, Peter Joseph in 2002.
Peter Joseph was one of the US soldiers that served here during the war.
By MAENI COMFORT