Every Jamaican child should visit the “Institute of Jamaica”

Museum JamaicaI just have to say this is an absolute MUST DO for your children.  I may even venture to say it is a “must do” for every Jamaican.  First of all did you know we had a museum in Jamaica?  You are not alone, I asked  SEVERAL of my friends, and no one knew we had a museum.  When I told folks we were heading down to the museum I got the same confused ” museum? what yu talking about?” look from everybody.   I also wasn’t  aware there was a museum until a few months ago, and I did all my schooling in Jamaica.  That really is embarrassing!


So on with it.  When I visited (August 2011)  there were  two exhibitions and a display at the Museums of History and Ethnography East St, downtown Kingston. These were: “From War to Windrush…Lest We Forget”, Our People: Other Worlds and a Taino display. From War to Windrush…Lest We Forget (really 2 exhibitions combined): “From War to Windrush”  is a traveling exhibition from England which provides distinct reflections on the impact of World War I and World War II on the lives of West Indians, while “Lest We Forget”  pays specific attention to the Jamaican experience.   This was quite impressive.  Actual pictures of Jamaicans heading off to fight for England in WWI, uniforms and gas masks worn by our soldiers, letters sent home to family and so much more.  There is also an interactive Education Room “Gibraltar Camp” which is a part of the Windrush Exhibitions, where children are guided into assemblying puzzles, using clues to complete map work, assuming the roles of soldiers by putting on uniforms and testing their motor skills by running through tires in true military camp fashion cheapest jordans shoes online.  I took my 7 year old son and his cousin, also 7, and they thoroughly enjoyed the “Gibraltar Camp”.  Even though, there was a TV monitor (not turned on)  in the exhibit, and one of the boys got excited and asked “where’s the remote?”, ready to turn on the TV! ( just shoot me!!)

Institute of Jamaica museum

In order to satisy students’ need for historical data and material culture ( especially owing the closure of the Taino Museum in White Marl, St Catherine) a Taino display aligned to the Csec Social Studies, History and Cape History syllabi has been mounted. This display offers a brief account of the history of the aboriginal Taino population from the time of European arrival in the 15th century. It is an arrangement of some fifty artifacts for students contextualized under the categories Social and Economic Life and Religious beliefs.

I understand from our tour guide, Meeckel,who was awesome , that the basement houses a lot of our historical artifacts, there just isn’t the space to have a permanent display, which is quite unfortunate.  The building itself is quite historic  and architecturally beautiful, with several original fixtures.  I left our museum with my heart racing with excitement.  It is such a fantastic experience to see our history cataloged and displayed so professionally.  The exhibit was quite engaging, each piece more captivating than the previous Womens New Balance 620.  I remember saying “Wow” “this is awesome” “incredible” over and over.  I was so proud, to know that this caliber museum existed in Jamaica.  I immediately called friends, family and everybody I knew who had children to share this “well kept secret”.

Well kept secret

So now for my soapbox.  Why is the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) such a “well kept secret”?  Why do we have a world class museum, that is quite impressive, educational, engaging and nobody knows about it?  Speaking to some persons in the “know”, they say there are a few “challenges” with IOJ as it is now new balance 574 cheap.  It is located downtown, Mondays to Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, no weekends and parking may be a problem.  Let me handle these “challenges” one by one.  1) The downtown location should not be a problem.  It is located on East St. in the same area as large companies, law firms, banks etc.,we not talking about some obscure lane.  2) The parking, IOJ “has (rents) a few spots” in a lot at 31/32 East St.-just above the entrance.  When we went the lot was EMPTY! (so no problem there).  However, 3) No weekends is a problem.  They really need to be open on Saturdays, if not every Saturday, then every other. I understand to implement a change in opening hours needs cabinet approval (or something similar)!!  Really? Gimme a break!

Field trips

OK, until the hours change, let’s work with what we have.  Why don’t schools take children to the museum for their field trips?  I think it should be mandatory that every school child visits the museum.  It is one thing to learn history in books and quiet another to see the history.  I understand Prep schools (parents) don’t want their children to go downtown?  Are you kidding me?  We have to get past this uptown vs. downtown mentality in Jamaica.  The IOJ is a phenomenal resource for our country that we need to take advantage of and enjoy.

Jamaica museums

Have you visited the IOJ?  What are your thoughts?  I would love to continue the conversation so please leave a comment below.

For more information on the Institute of Jamaica and the museums across Jamaica, visit their website.  A great site with really good information on Jamaican history.  You can also get involved with the museum by becoming a Friend of the Museum.


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  • I have to quote from your previous blog, “I laugh because I must not cry”. I can’t help it but I keep thinking of another quote, “As you sow, so shall you also reap”. They are dancing to the music now, but it will soon be time to pay the Piper. There will be wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth…. Bill G.