A Small Island with a Big History
Curacao: A Small Island with a Big History
Article written by Jessica Gallant
Curacao is home to a fascinating history filled with intriguing stories that shed light on Dutch colonization, the growth of its port industry, its cultural heritage, and pivotal periods of slavery and emancipation. While in Curacao, you will find a variety of museums to choose from for an engaging historical journey. These institutions, often housed in monumental buildings and located in the heart of Willemstad or nestled remotely amidst the island’s natural beauty, are not only sources of knowledge but also hold profound historical significance. Be prepared to be enthralled by the compelling stories that await within the museums’ walls as you delve into the history of Curacao. Discover how this small island holds such a big history to share!
The Curacao Museum
The Curacao Museum, formerly a Military Hospital, stands as the oldest museum on the island. Housed within a historic monument dating back to 1853, it invites visitors to embark on a captivating journey through time, exploring exhibits spanning centuries that pay tribute to Curacao’s extraordinary heritage. The museum offers an extensive perspective on Curacao’s history, thoughtfully presenting historical artifacts and antiques from bygone eras, along with intriguing artworks from international and local artists. As the visitor’s experience extends beyond the museum walls, the surrounding botanical garden showcases sculptures of past freedom fighters in an inspiring environment. In addition to its primary exhibition, the museum hosts other fascinating expositions, including the SNIP Gallery, dedicated to the plane that made the pioneering transatlantic flight from Schiphol to Curacao.
Visit www.hetcuracaosch.museum for more information.
Instagram and Facebook: @hetcuracaoschmuseum
Mongui Maduro Historic House Museum & Library
The museum situated in the former plantation house Rooi Catootje, from 1735, invites visitors into a world where history comes alive. As you step inside this historic house, it’s not just a museum; it’s a captivating adventure through time.
Here, you will witness the fascinating story of the Jewish Levy Maduro family, a tale filled with passion, determination, and an enduring legacy, whilst uncovering the profound impact this remarkable family had on the social, cultural, and economic history and development of Curacao. During your visit you will delve into the lives of four family members, who were the owners of this former plantation house since its acquisition in 1853 by Salomon E. Levy Maduro.
His grandson, Mongui Maduro, started collecting books and newspaper clippings at the age of 14, in 1905. His heirs took it upon themselves to ensure the continuation of the collection. The result is a contemporary library focusing on two distinct categories: Judaica and Antillana
Visiting the Mongui Maduro Museum & Library isn’t just a history lesson; it’s a sensory experience. Where authentic antiques, heirlooms and artifacts are thoughtfully displayed, enriching the journey through time, and resurrecting this history.
Visit www.maduromuseum.com for more information.
Travel back in time with a visit to the Savonet Museum located at the entrance of the beautiful Christoffel National Park. This former plantation house built in 1662 is an important cultural site to visit for its well-kept structures and artifacts from the past. This unique landmark allows its visitors to recount the social evolution of Curacao through the story of the island’s first inhabitants, the plantation owners, and the enslaved people. Different exhibits are presented for you to witness the situation of the distinct groups of the slavery period as well as the evolution of the civilization and customs following emancipation. To get in- depth with all the details, you can do an audio tour or a guided tour with a local guide.
Visit www.christoffelpark.org for more information.
Kurá Hulanda Museum
The museum’s exhibits will transport you back to the periods of the transatlantic slave trade, with a focus on Curacao’s significant role in this historical era. As you explore its corridors, you will encounter an extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and art pieces that depict the African diaspora and the abolitionist movement. Beyond slavery, the Kurá Hulanda Museum also goes into the island’s indigenous history, colonial era, and the evolution of its vibrant culture. With its well-curated displays and informative presentations, the museum paints a comprehensive picture of Curacao’s complex past. Visiting the Kurá Hulanda Museum is not just an educational experience but also a deeply moving one, as it encourages reflection on the enduring impact of historical events on society today.
Visit https://www.kurahulandavillage.com/place/museum-kura-hulanda/ for more information.
Curacao Maritime History Museum
The next top sight, that you simply cannot miss out on, is a visit to the Curacao Maritime History Museum. Here you discover the fascinating history of Curacao’s heritage. Highlighted over 3 floors and situated in a monumental building, with a modern marine style interieur. The first floor shows the island’s historical events of the past 500 years. From the first inhabitants, who came with their canoe’s (since 1500 BC), to pirates & privateers and the African slave trade. The second floor exhibits the development of the harbor, among the floating, Queen Emma bridge (Which was invented by the US Consul and opened in 1888), shipbuilding and a model of the Shell refinery. And finally, when you reach the top floor, you enter the world of Defense force of the island. With the combination of audio-visual technology and authentic artefacts, this museum is for everyone, who loves to know more about the history of Curacao.
Guided harbor tour
In addition to the museum, we offer a harbor tour on an original harbor ferry. This is a fun and educational outing for the whole family, where you’ll be able to experience its bustling harbor. Just take in the views and enjoy the narrative about our natural harbor as you cruise along.
Visit www.curacaomaritime.com for more information.