Aside from its legendary beaches, stunning vistas, vibrant nightlife and wide array of delectable delights Jamaica is also celebrated for its rich culture. The island has numerous repositories of artistic treasures that display everything from exuberant folk art, prints, paintings, and sculptures to Bob Marley’s famous music studio – there’s no better way to immerse yourself in Jamaican culture than on a visit to one of our many museums and galleries. For the traveler interested in seeing this side of the island, here is a list of 5 Must Visit Museums and Galleries in Jamaica:
Bob Marley Museum, Kingston
The King of Reggae music and still to this day the most influential musician to come out of Jamaica is the legend, Bob Marley and a trip to Kingston is not complete without a visit to Bob Marley Museum. The museum is located on the site of the legendary musician’s home, which he purchased in 1975. This house, featuring 19th-century architecture, was Marley’s home until his death in 1981. It was converted into a museum six years later by his wife, Mrs Rita Marley. Brilliant red, green and yellow colours decorate the exterior of the creaky wooden house on 56 Hope Road where the museum is located.
The main museum displays the life and achievements of this phenomenal musician through artifacts, memorabilia, numerous writings, photographs and other head-turning mementos. The property also features a well-equipped 80-seat theatre, a photographic gallery, and a gift shop selling T-shirts, posters and CDs and other Bob Marley memorabilia as well as items from Jamaica. You can also tickle your palate with sumptuous meals from the Legend Cafe. The venue allows you to see every aspect of the life of the legend.
Fort Charles Maritime Museum, Port Royal
Once known as the ‘Wickedest City on Earth,’ Jamaica’s famed Port Royal is undoubtedly one of the island’s most captivating historical sites still standing and during the late 17th century was one of the largest towns in the English colonies. Due to its prime geographic location in the middle of the Caribbean, the town was once a haven for buccaneers and pirates, including the infamous Sir Henry Morgan. From Port Royal, these privateers preyed upon and plundered the heavily laden treasure fleets departing from the Spanish Main. Until the morning of June 7th, 1692, when what was perhaps the most infamous earthquake to hit the Caribbean let alone Jamaica struck the town.
The tremors rocked the sandy peninsula on which the town was built, and two-thirds of the city either fell into rubble or sank into the sea. An estimated 2000 citizens were instantly killed in the disaster. Many more perished from injuries and disease in the following days. The marvelous Fort Charles Maritime Museum now stands in the courtyard the old British naval headquarters tracing Jamaica’s relationship with the sea from the time of the indigenous Tainos to the development of Jamaican maritime history. It contains a miscellany of things nautical from the heyday of the Royal Navy including a scale model of the fort and models of ships of past eras. The museum is open from 10 am to 4 pm daily.
The National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston
( via The National Gallery of Jamaica )
The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) is the island’s premier art collection. It is located on 12 Ocean Boulevard, a commercial and cultural center on the Kingston harbour. Established in 1974, it is the oldest and largest public art gallery in the Anglophone Caribbean. It has a comprehensive collection of early, modern and contemporary art from Jamaica along with smaller Caribbean and international holdings. A significant part of its collections is on permanent view. The NGJ also has 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, its two recurrent national exhibitions, the National Biennial and the annual National Visual Arts Exhibition and Competition. The latter is a collaboration with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission and is part of the annual Independence festival. The NGJ offers a range of educational services, including guided tours, lectures and panel discussions, and children’s art programmes and also operates a gift shop and coffee shop.
Harmony Hall, Ocho Rios
Located 4 miles (6.4 km) from Ocho Rios on the main road to Oracabessa and Port Antonio, renovated historical architecture meets modern fine art in this gallery-cum-restaurant at Harmony Hall. Built in the mid-19th century as a Methodist manse it is one of Jamaica’s most beautiful buildings. Opened in 1981 after a year’s restoration, it has since received international acclaim as an art and craft gallery. There are regular exhibitions during the winter season, featuring the works of Jamaica’s finest painters and sculptors, and over 100 artists and crafts people are represented. The gift shop includes a range of prints, ceramics, books, fragrances and the ever-popular Annabella Boxes. Promoting excellence in Jamaican art and craft was the original motivation for opening Harmony Hall, and is still the guiding principle. All are welcome to browse, relax and enjoy the atmosphere or the award-winning cuisine at Toscanini’s authentic Italian restaurant., ensuring a tranquil, hassle-free experience. The gallery is open daily from 10:00am to 6:00pm, and admission is free. It closes for holidays in September, and on Good Friday and Christmas Day. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily except Mondays.
Institute of Jamaica, Kingston
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Located at 10-16 East Street Kingston the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) is the storehouse of Jamaica’s natural history. Established in 1879 by then Governor, Sir Anthony Musgrave the IOJ was the first organisation of its kind in the Caribbean. Over the years it has developed into the most significant cultural, artistic and scientific organisation in Jamaica. In 1978, the Institute of Jamaica Act of 1879 was repealed and its scope of activities expanded, incorporating everything from Natural History, to the history of Jamaican music, the legacy of Marcus Garvey and Education & Outreach. The IOJ’s mandate is “For the encouragement of literature, science and art in Jamaica.” Among the items on display are fauna and flora indigenous to the island. The IOJ is open to the public between 8:30AM to 5:00PM Mondays to Thursdays and up to 4:00PM on Fridays, with a minimal entry fee.
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