I had one of the most pleasant experiences visiting the Museum of Belize, a gem in hiding at the old capital of Belize City. Yes, sometimes history can be boring, but Belize’s museum wraps history, culture and heritage in one unique package that the visit is definitely worth your time.
The Museum of Belize is a very wonderful surprise, a tour that a lot of locals and tourists overlook. I like to get to know even a little bit of the history of a country that I’m visiting; it makes me appreciate and understand more about the people’s lifestyles, culture and language. The museum in a wonderful experience taking you back to old country Belize, or British Honduras as it was called before obtaining independence in 1981.
VERY INTERESTING FACT:
The Museum occupies the structure built by the British as a prison in 1857 with bricks, called “London Stocks,” that had been used as ballast in British ships. In 1885, additional cells were built, converting the Warden’s Quarters and a portion of the lower stores into 71 male and 6 female cells, including four solitary confinement units. In 1888-89, part of the upper story became the gallows or hanging room, the site of all executions until 1993.
Yes – Hanging Room! The death penalty in Belize was conducted by hangings that took place at the building that is now the museum. That is what makes the place so unique and kinda creepy, don’t you think? You can actually step into a well-preserved prison cell located at the far end of the building. It’s VERY tiny, with original graffiti by the inmates; gloomy with the smallest window. You get a clear picture how six inmates lived all crammed up in there.
The prison cell was definitely a highlight for me, but the museum has a lot more to offer. Among the features of the Museum:
- * A cool collection of photographs and data about the history of Belize, focusing primarily on Belize City.
- * Display about Baron Bliss, a sailor who fell in love with Belize and became the greatest philanthropist of Belize, which includes his will.
- * A huge stamp collection reflecting on Belize’s colonial history
- * An impressive coin collection
- * A display about the devastating 1961 Hurricane Hattie
- * Display and history about the Logwood and Mahogany industry
- * Collection of bottles of Belize that include medicinal, ink and alcoholic beverage bottles dating back to the 1670’s
- * Insects of Belize
- * Maya Civilization – including a replica of the famous Jade Head, information on major Maya archaeological sites, display of artifacts, pottery, obsidian and jewelry.
The Museum of Belize offers much to visitors interested in the history of the former British Honduras, but has a way to capture the attention of just about anybody. Understandably the masses choose to experience the country’s natural gifts most popular adventure destinations, leaving little or no time for cultural exploration. But the Museum of Belize should not be overlooked, I had a great time learning.
Museum of Belize Info:
* Entrance $10 – You can visit the museum independently, but a guided tour of the place is much more interesting.
* Building has air conditioning comfort
* Gift Shop available
* Lectures about Belizean History and Culture are available upon request during the school year.
* Special tours must be arranged in advance by calling and booking with staff: CHIEF TOUR GUIDE, OR EDUCATION AND RESEARCH OFFICER. Schools especially are asked to book at least a week in advance. We are limited in space and staff and prefer groups of no more than 50 at a time.
For more information on the museum http://www.museumofbelize.org
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Phone: +501 223-4524
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun: 8:00a.m. to 5:00p.m.
Address: 8 Gabourel Lane, Central Bank Compound, Belize City