The largest English-speaking city in the Caribbean, our colourful, cosmopolitan capital pulsates as a cultural mecca. Many refer to it as the cultural capital of the Caribbean. Against the background of the majestic Blue Mountain, the city teems with commerce and entertainment. Among the corporate offices, government buildings, restaurants, clubs and theatres, Kingston is dotted with some of the most extensive museums in the region.
Fort Charles is the oldest standing fortification in Jamaica. It was built by the British immediately after their seizure of the island from Spanish. The Fort has witnessed many turns in Jamaican history, including its decades as the preferred pirate base in the West Indies. It also bears testimony to the Great Earthquake of 1692. 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. Visitors to Fort Charles can also experience the vertigo of a tremour in the popular Giddy House. Constructed as an artillery store in 1880, the building shifted to an extreme angle during another earthquake, this time in 1907.
MONEY MUSEUM, BANK OF JAMAICA
The Money Museum at the Bank of Jamaica 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 which featured in the nostalgic stories of our aged relatives are available for viewing at the museum
JAMAICA MILITARY MUSEUM
This museum at Up Park Camp of the Jamaica Defense Force chronicles Jamaica’s 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, silverwares, weaponry, military vehicles and equipment.
BOB MARLEY MUSEUM
The Bob Marley Museum celebrates the life and work of the legendary musician. It is located on the site of a wooden home he purchased in 1975 from Chris Blackwell. The main museum features artifacts, memorabilia, numerous writings, photographs and other head-turning mementos. The property also has 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. The onsite Legend Café serves up scrumptious vegetarian fare.
The Institute of Jamaica 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 for the islands finest artistes 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.
INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA