Museums are known for their rich depiction of history; they display many artifacts, art and cultural pieces which have been preserved throughout the years and centuries to keep the memories of ancestors and great artists alive for generations to come.
There are many notable museums in the Caribbean, of which Jamaica and Cuba are two countries that have several museum exhibitions throughout their island. However, Antigua and Barbuda, Puerto Rico and the Turks and Caicos also have beautiful museums. All these museums nonetheless have common themes which depict the country’s music, art, history and culture dated as far back as slavery and have artwork synonymous with the history of the people of the island.
In Jamaica, the National Gallery of Jamaica is the notable museum which is located in Kingston and exhibits a large mix of locally based historical artwork as well as modern day art pieces. There are also other museums around the island – the Natural History Museum of Jamaica, the Bob Marley Museum, and the Jamaica Music Museum – which holds mainly Reggae inspired works of various mediums including sculptures, pottery, paintings, drawings, among others.
North of Jamaica is the Caribbean island of Cuba which is home to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. This is translated to mean the National Museum of Fine Arts and while Jamaica focuses more on the culture of their island, this Cuban museum has much more variety regarding the types of works on display. The National Museum of Fine Arts has exhibits which are associated and linked to Greek, Egyptian, and Roman cultures. Apart from these unique and ancestral linkages, the museum also combines historical and contemporary art forms and styles to add to their country’s tradition.
The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda is another must see museum for those who have an eye for interesting artifacts and artwork from the Caribbean. Interestingly this museum is the oldest building on the island and rightfully holds works depicting local heritage and history from every major infrastructure of the native people.
Another museum which has breath taking works of art is the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico which displays work from as early as the sixteenth century up until present day. It is evident that the Turks and Caicos’ National Museum holds mainly historical artwork, specifically unique and indigenous flora, but it still adds to the rich culture of the Caribbean with its ancient artifacts and inspired works.
Haiti is not left out where museums are concerned as the National Museum of Haiti hosts several artifacts which preserved and depict the history of the natives that lived on the island before, during and after Europeans such as Christopher Columbus discovered it. Haiti’s Expressions Art Gallery is one of the oldest there and houses around ten thousand works of art.
While there are museums which were around for decades and its age is represented by their infrastructure, some are relatively new in terms of their displays like the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas with most of the works which are collected and exhibited are only as early as the twentieth century. The Caribbean while known for its rich culture is also known for its love of music, however, museums which try to focus on more of a Caribbean musical theme are either relatively new or a work in progress. Examples are the Jamaica Music Museum and the Caribbean Music Museum based in St. Maarten, which exists to preserve Caribbean music history as well as promote its future.
Nonetheless, museums in the Caribbean serve to promote artistic heritage. From the earliest people found on Caribbean islands to the unique people that live there now, Caribbean museums depict all of this through the pieces of art they carry. Artwork in Caribbean museums portray the rich history and heritage of music, culture, tradition and our ancestor’s lifestyle which influenced the present and future generations who can come and admire their world centuries ago.
By Alexandra Daley