Kingston is undoubtedly the capital of commerce, but it is also a colourful cultural mecca. The teeming city is famous for its extensive cultural and entertainment offerings, with everything from clubs and restaurants to theatres, parks and museums. This Travel Tuesday, we explore the museums of Kingston.
Fort Charles Maritime Museum
Fort Charles is the oldest standing fort in Jamaica, built by the British immediately after they seized the island from the Spanish. The Fort has witnessed many turns in Jamaican history, including its decades as the preferred pirate base of the West Indies. It also bears testimony to the 1692 earthquake that almost flattened Port Royal. The onsite museum showcases models of the town before and after the quake, as well as pottery, maps, weaponry and other artifacts from Jamaica’s colonial past. Perhaps the most popular attraction is the Giddy House, the former artillery store that tilted to an extreme angle during the 1907 earthquake.
Money Museum, Bank of Jamaica
The BoJ’s Money Museum in downtown Kingston tells the story of 500 years of Jamaican trade and currency. The guided tour is available on weekdays and chronicles our progress from the glass beads used by the Tainos to the crisp notes that line our pockets today. The pieces of eight, Christian quatties, pounds, shillings and pences that featured in the nostalgic stories of our grandparents and great grandparents are available for viewing.
Jamaica Military Museum
Located at Up Park Camp, home of the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF), this museum chronicles our military history as far back as the island’s first inhabitants – the Tainos. It is an interesting study on the types of defense strategies and tools used by various groups throughout our history. Most of the items on display reflect our British colonial past and includes uniforms, medals, silverware, weaponry, military vehicles and equipment.
Bob Marley Museum
Located on the site of the wooden home Marley purchased from Chris Blackwell in 1975, the main museum features artifacts, memorabilia, numerous writings, photographs and other mementos. The property also has a well-equipped 80-seat theatre, a photographic gallery and a gift shop. The onsite Legend Cafe serves up scrumptious vegetarian fare.
Institute of Jamaica
The IOJ was established in 1879 with a mandate to encourage literature, science and art in Jamaica. The institute is responsible for Jamaica’s national museums and is a rich source of information about our heritage. The Natural History Museum of Jamaica holds the national collection of flora and fauna. A selection of specimens is displayed for public viewing. The National Gallery of Jamaica exhibits works from the islands finest artists, as well as occasional international collections. The Afro-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank showcases African artifacts from Jamaica and overseas. The Memory Bank also contains recordings of Jamaica’s oral history. Liberty Hall at the former location of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) celebrates black consciousness and the life of National Hero Marcus Garvey.