Museums & Art Galleries Tour, Nassau

Museums & Art Galleries Tour (Self Guided), Nassau

The capital of the Bahamas, Nassau, has no shortage of museums and art galleries for visitors to explore. The displayed collections reflect the history, culture, and local way of life.

One of the notable institutions is the Bahamas Historical Museum, where you can dive into the past of this island nation and discover its intriguing heritage. The Nassau Public Library and Museum is a place that combines literature and history, offering a unique blend of knowledge and artifacts. The Balcony House Museum is another fascinating stop, providing insight into colonial life through its well-preserved architecture.

For those interested in understanding the painful history of slavery and the journey to emancipation, the Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation is a must-visit. It sheds light on the struggles and triumphs of those who fought for freedom.

As with many cities set on an island in the ocean, one of the most popular museums in Nassau is the Pirates Museum which takes you on a thrilling voyage into the world of swashbuckling pirates, offering an entertaining and educational experience.

For a deeper dive into Bahamian culture and heritage, the Heritage Museum of the Bahamas is a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibits that showcase the nation's diverse traditions. Meanwhile, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas celebrates the vibrant local art scene, featuring contemporary and traditional works by Bahamian artists.

Lastly, the Educulture Junkanoo Museum immerses visitors in the lively and colorful Junkanoo festival, an integral part of Bahamian culture.

As such, Nassau's museums and art galleries offer a captivating journey through the country's history, culture, and artistry. Don't miss the opportunity to enrich your knowledge and appreciation of the Bahamas' heritage by visiting these incredible places during your stay. You'll find it both informative and entertaining.
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Museums & Art Galleries Tour Map

Guide Name: Museums & Art Galleries Tour
Guide Location: Bahamas » Nassau (See other walking tours in Nassau)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Bahamas Historical Museum
  • Nassau Public Library and Museum
  • Balcony House Museum
  • Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation
  • Pirates of Nassau Museum
  • Heritage Museum of the Bahamas
  • National Art Gallery of The Bahamas
  • Educulture Junkanoo Museum
Bahamas Historical Museum

1) Bahamas Historical Museum

The Bahamas Historical Museum is a non-profit museum. It functions as a popular tourist spot while preserving Bahamian material and culture. Exhibits span across 500 years with displays of art, artifacts, memorabilia, documents and photos.

Several model ships that show the maritime history of the Bahamas are on display in the museum. The museum also has antique furniture and archaeological remains from the island's early inhabitants.

The museum and the Bahamas Historical Society was founded in 1959 by Lady Arthur, wife of Governor Sir Raynor Arthur. Prior to the establishment of the historical society the only history taught in the Bahamas was British history. The Bahamas Historical Museum and Historical Society helped to reinforce the history of the island before it was colonized by Europeans.

The Bahamas Historical Museum is open from 10 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday. It is closed on weekends and during the months of July and August.
Nassau Public Library and Museum

2) Nassau Public Library and Museum

The Nassau Public Library and Museum is both the oldest and the largest library in the country. It was founded by the Bahamas Society for the Diffusion of Knowledge in 1837 as a reading society. The institution became an official library 10 years later.

The building that houses the Nassau Public Library and Museum was built in 1797. Functioning as a jail, the building owes its octagonal design inspiration to the Old Powder Magazine in Williamsburg, Virginia. The Old Powder Magazine is thought to have been designed by Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood in 1714.

The jail was converted into a library in 1873. The prison cells are now used to hold documents, newspapers, charts, books, historic prints and Arawak artifacts. It also has computers with internet access that can be rented for a minimum of 15 minutes at a time.

The Nassau Public Library and Museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 5:45 PM and Saturdays from 10 AM to 3:45 PM. It is closed on Sunday.
Balcony House Museum

3) Balcony House Museum

The Balcony House Museum is the oldest, still-standing wooden house in Nassau. Though there is no record of an exact date when the home was built, historical maps show its presence from at least the late-18th century. It is named for the prominent balcony that stretches along the entirety of the home's second floor.

Stephen Dillet, the first black member of the Bahamian House of Assembly, lived in the home in the mid-1800s. Dillet also served as inspect of the Nassau Police and justice of the peace.

The house was converted into a museum in 1992. It is appointed with antique furnishings and unique items that show the history of the Bahamas from the 18th and 19th centuries. The house also displays the Loyalist architecture of the period with its balcony and mahogany staircase.

The Balcony House Museum is open on Monday through Friday from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM. It is closed on weekends. Admission to the Balcony House Museum is free.
Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation

4) Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation

The Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation is named to honor Pompey, an enslaved person who lived on Rolle Plantation. Pompey led a revolt at the Rolle Plantation in Exuma in 1830 after plantation owner John Rolle ordered Pompey and 76 other enslaved people to move to another island.

Pompey fled the plantation and stole a sailboat, planning to sail for Nassau and petition the governor to be allowed to stay on Exuma island. Pompey didn't reach Nassau, but the British governor stopped the transfer. Pompey received 39 lashes from Rolle, but his rebellion was celebrated among enslaved people. The slave trade was abolished in 1834.

The museum is located in Vendue House, which was built in the 1760s. Vendue House functioned as a slave marketplace during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The small museum has a collection of photos and artifacts that describe the Bahamian slave trade and the daily lives of enslaved Bahamians. In addition, the museum features an exhibit titled Wade in The Water: Peter Mowell, the Last Slave Ship in The Bahamas. This exhibit looks at the events surrounding a slave ship that was shipwrecked in 1860 in the Abacos. The museum also discusses the 1834 emancipation.
Pirates of Nassau Museum

5) Pirates of Nassau Museum (must see)

The Pirates of Nassau Museum is a fun interactive museum that immerses guests into the lives and times of Nassau's pirates. Visitors can board the Revenge pirate ship and go on an adventure through time.

The years 1690 through 1720 are known as the Golden Age of Piracy, and Nassau was known as the pirate capital of the world. Nassau was the heart of pirate activity as pirates could helm their shallow-draft ships through the waters of The Bahamas that were too shallow for larger warships. The pirates could then quickly access the deeper water trade routes that larger, slower ships used.

The museum presents its pirate history in an entertaining, interactive way. Visitors begin their pirate adventure on a recreated dock and shanty town before boarding the Revenge replica pirate ship. Onboard, visitors will learn more about pirate history and can practice their pirate lingo.

The museum displays different pirate living quarters, weaponry, and tools. In addition, the museum has exhibits detailing famous pirates such as Blackbeard and Woods Rogers. Visitors can also learn more about women pirates like Anne Bonny and Mary Reid.

In the Marooned exhibit, visitors can see what it was like for pirates who broke the pirate code and were abandoned. In the Flag Room, you'll learn that pirates would raise a black flag as they approached their victims.

The Pirates of Nassau Museum has an on-site restaurant, Smugglers, where you can enjoy local favorites like conch salad.
Heritage Museum of the Bahamas

6) Heritage Museum of the Bahamas

The Heritage Museum of the Bahamas is a museum that offers collected items from prehistoric times to present day. The museum is located in the historic Mountbatten House. The home was built in the mid-19th century. It was restored to its original state by the Garzaroli family who wished to create a museum to honor the island nation's history.

Most of pieces in the museum are owned by British antiques collector Hamilton White. These items include fossils, relics and a 4.5 billion year old slice of meteorite. The museum is located on the upper flower of the house. There is also a gift shop onsite.

The museum is considered to be the foundation of Heritage Village. Along with the museum, tourists can visit the Heritage Village Artists' Studios where they can meet local artisans. These artists create jewelry, paintings, shell carvings and pottery. There are also photographers and shoemakers onsite.

The Heritage Museum was founded in 2014. It is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.
National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

7) National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas is a museum and art gallery that exhibits historical artifacts alongside pieces of art. The National Collection of Bahamian Art is held on the museum's ground floor while the collection of international art and temporary exhibits are located upstairs.

The National Art Gallery is held in the historic Villa Doyle house. The home was built in the 1860s and was converted into the National Art Gallery in 1996. Along with this home, the National Art Gallery grounds include the outdoor amphitheater Fiona's Theatre, which is used for music, theatre, cultural events and private celebrations.

The NAGB Art Park is located adjacent to the museum. This is the site of the first African hospital in Nassau. It now has an outdoor sculpture collection that appears along a sculpture walk. It reflects the history and culture of the Bahamas.
Educulture Junkanoo Museum

8) Educulture Junkanoo Museum

The Educulture Junkanoo Museum is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in learning about Bahamian culture and traditions. Located on West Street in downtown Nassau, the museum is the brainchild of Arlene Nash Ferguson, who is an expert on Bahamian culture and has served on the National Junkanoo Committee for 24 years. The museum is housed in her childhood home, which has been repurposed to showcase the rich history and culture of Junkanoo and The Bahamas.

As you make your way through the museum's exhibits, you'll be transported back in time to the origins of Junkanoo and its evolution over the years. The displays include a wide variety of costume pieces, traditional fabrics, and other artifacts that bring the festival to life. You'll also have the opportunity to listen to soulful Bahamian music and learn about the history and significance of the festival.

One of the highlights of the Educulture Junkanoo Museum is the interactive experience it offers. Visitors can make colorful masks, dance to Bahamian music, and even meet a Junkanoo queen. The museum's friendly staff is always on hand to answer any questions and provide insights into the festival and its cultural significance.

The museum is open Monday to Friday, from 9:00am to 3:00pm, and admission is affordable. The museum also offers Junkanoo drinks, which are a must-try for anyone looking to sample the local cuisine.

Walking Tours in Nassau, Bahamas

Create Your Own Walk in Nassau

Create Your Own Walk in Nassau

Creating your own self-guided walk in Nassau is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Nassau Introduction Walking Tour

Nassau Introduction Walking Tour

Nassau is the largest city and capital of The Islands of The Bahamas. Over 70% of Bahamian residents live in this bustling city. Nassau is the country’s government, education, administration, and media center.

Nassau was founded in 1670 by British nobility who sought to settle New Providence Island. The British named the settlement Charles Town and built a fort to defend the new town against...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles