About NICH

Message from the Minister

Welcome to this vibrant cultural space, where the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) passionately upholds its mission to enrich our society through cultural revitalisation. 

At NICH, we are dedicated to empowering contemporary and traditional creatives, nurturing their talents,  and recognizing their role as catalysts for change in our communities, safeguarding both our tangible and intangible heritage.

Through a diverse array of programs and initiatives, we aim to foster innovation and celebrate the rich tapestry of Belize. We place great value on our stakeholders, whose collaboration and support are integral to our work. By forging new partnerships and strengthening existing ones, we strive to amplify our impact and reach even greater heights in cultural development.

We invite you to connect with us, share your ideas, and explore opportunities to collaborate. Together, we can continue to promote, preserve, and innovate within Belize’s cultural landscape.

-Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Culture

NICH Board of Directors

The National Institute of Culture and History is governed by a Board of Directors appointed by the Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Education, Culture, Science and Technology. The current NICH Board of Directors are: Mr. Albert Vaughan, Mrs. Arreini Palacio Morgan, Mr. Carlo Habet, Ms. Jaylan Craig, Mr. Kirkland Smith, Mr. Eluide Miller, and Mr. Yasser Musa serving as an Advisor to the Board of Directors of the NICH.

Our Mission & Vision


NICH is Belize’s premier cultural institution dedicated to the safeguarding, promotion, expression, conservation and sustainable development of culture in all its diversity in collaboration with the people of Belize.


A Belize that embraces and promotes Our Cultures, Our Values, Our Identity, Our Prosperity in a global community.


Institute Directors

Dr Melissa Badillo

Dr Melissa Badillo

Director, Institute of Archaeology
Dr. Melissa Badillo has made significant contributions to archaeology in Belize. Dr. Badillo graduated with a doctorate in 2021 from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is committed to the protection, preservation, and sustainable management of Belize’s archaeological resources. Under her leadership at the Institute of Archaelogy, excellence and innovation are forefront in archaeological research, enforcement, monitoring & management.
Mr Rolando Cocom

Mr Rolando Cocom

Director, Institute for Social and Cultural Research
Mr. Rolando Cocom is an experienced research officer and community heritage specialist in Belize. He is passionate about making research relevant to students and to contribute to Belize’s national and cultural development. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of Belize and a Master’s Degree in Sociology from The University of the South Pacific. He is the current director of our Institute for Social and Cultural Research.
Ms Ilona Smiling

Ms Ilona Smiling

Director, Museum of Belize and Houses of Culture
Ilona Smiling, Director of the Museum of Belize & the Houses of Culture, and the Museum of Belizean Art, holds an MA in Cultural Creative Industries and Art Management from TNUA, Taipei. With over a decade of experience in the sector, she advocates for art and museum development, curates engaging exhibitions, and fosters inclusivity. Her leadership is pivotal in advancing the museums' programs and expanding community-focused initiatives.
Ms Kim Vasquez

Ms Kim Vasquez

Director, Institute of Creative Arts
As the Director of the Institute of Creative Arts, Ms. Kim Vasquez leads with a passion for fostering artistic excellence and supports the development of the cultural and creative sector. With over 20 years of experience in the arts, she is dedicated to cultivating an environment where creativity thrives and innovative ideas flourish. She is also an accomplished screenwriter, stage director and festival producer.


Our Responsibilities

Cultural Freedom

Our objective is to encourage creativity by promoting full freedom of expression within the law and to allow free and democratic access to information within the framework of the law.

Participation of Youths

Our objective is to ensure the participation of youth and the proper handling of gender issues.

Culture in Education

Our objective is to promote the effective integration of culture and the arts as curricular subjects in primary and secondary schools.

Cultural Promotion

Our objective is to promote the values of national and regional community while locating Belizean culture as part of universal culture and insisting on striving for excellence and a strong ethical foundation.

Community Participation

Our objective is to ensure the greatest possible participation of civil society in the making and execution of policies and programmes, particularly from cultural workers, artists and organized groups.

Policy Development

Our objective to apply the principle of decentralization to ensure that the several districts of Belize are beneficiaries of and contributors to cultural policies and programmes.

Multi-Cultural Awareness

Our objective is to foster cross-cultural understanding and mutual respect, given Belize’s multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual nature


Our objective is to take full advantage of the latest technological advances, particularly in ensuring that the mass media contribute effectively to cultural development.


Our objective is to conduct international relations and exchanges to safeguard and enhance national sovereignty and dignity.


Our Partners


Our Collaborators

Interested in volunteering with us?

Your passion and skills can help us preserve history and enrich our community. Help make a difference in: