Whether you live in or outside the Caribbean region, there is always more to learn about where we came from and how our cultural identities are shaped and transformed over time. There is no better place to get a snapshot of this knowledge than by visiting a local museum or art gallery. Here are a few Caribbean museums should visit, next time you are in the Caribbean region.
MUPANAH – Port-au-Prince, Haiti
The Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien (MUPANAH) features the heroes of the independence of Haiti, its history and culture. Opened in 1983, the museum was only slightly damaged in the 2010 earthquake and is a must-see for history buds who want to learn more about the Caribbean’s oldest independent country.
National Museum and Art Gallery – Port of Spain, Trinidad
Originally opened in 1892, The National Museum and Art Gallery the general section of the museum has a permanent collection of over 10,000 items in seven major galleries – Art, Social History, Natural History, Economic History, Petroleum, and Geology. There is also a small gallery dedicated to Trinidad’s Carnival arts heritage.
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico – San Juan, Puerto Rico
The 13-year-old Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico has more than 130,000 square feet of space and offers the most significant and representative of Puerto Rican art from the 16th century to the present.
National Gallery of Jamaica – Kingston, Jamaica
Established in 1974, the gallery is the oldest and largest public art museum in the English Caribbean. A significant part of its comprehensive collection of early, modern and contemporary art from Jamaica is on permanent view. The NGJ maintains an active exhibition programme, which includes retrospectives of work by major Jamaican artists, thematic exhibitions, guest-curated exhibitions, touring exhibitions that originate outside of the island, and the premier national exhibition, the National Biennial. Alongside its historical and modern permanent collection, they also support emerging Jamaican artists working across a variety of mediums including film, painting, photography and mixed media installations.
Musee du Rhum Saint-James, Saint-Marie, Martinique
Considered the Caribbean’s Museum of Rum, this intimate museum has an amazing collection of old distilling equipment which tells the tale of the region’s love affair with sugar and the libations created from it. The museum, which is located at the Saint James distillery in 1981, pays homage to the West Indies’ most popular spirit.
Museo de Arte Moderno – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
It’s called the Museum of Modern Art, but the Museo de Arte Moderno is truly a tour through almost two centuries of Dominican art.
Turks & Caicos National Museum
Indigenous plants and wildlife of the Turks & Caicos islands are the focal points of the national museum. Guided tours include expert insight into the Molasses Reef Wreck (the oldest wreck ever found in the western hemisphere) and the intimate details of Turks and Caicos Island life, from its first inhabitants to the salt industry to present day. For those interested in local arts and craft, there are smaller galleries which feature the work of artists specializing in silk paintings, tropical sea life, conch shell art, natural sponges, and shells.
The Museum of Antigua & Barbuda
The Museum of Antigua & Barbuda is housed in the oldest building on the island and is managed by the Historical & Archaeological Society. Consisting primarily of artifacts, the museum also holds special exhibitions from other countries and is a popular venue for movie screenings which reflect local and Caribbean history.
Spice Basket Museum – Grenada
This intimate museum provides a concise history of Grenada’s heritage. Displays range from Amerindian artifacts and plantation records to articles and pamphlets written on the Grenada Revolution 1979 – 1983. The world’s first and only display of West Indies Cricket memorabilia makes up a significant portion of the collection. Bats, luggage, uniforms, and caps worn by team members during significant matches are on display.
The Alexander Hamilton Museum – Nevis
Housed in a Caribbean Georgian building that was built on the foundation of the structure where Alexander Hamilton was born in 1757 (or 1755), the museum interprets the History and Culture of Nevis and the life of Hamilton, the first Secretary of the United States Treasury.
Have you been to any of these Caribbean museums? Also are there other major Caribbean museums you think we should add to the list? Do let us know in the comments below.