Museums in Mauritius
May 14 2019
May 14 2019
Equal parts beautiful and fascinating, the unparalleled island destination of Mauritius is one for every discerning traveller's must-see travel list. Tropical luxury hotels adorn the sublime powder-white beaches which fade into glittering waters that seem to dazzle in every shade of blue, undulating volcanic interiors are interspersed with lime green sugar cane fields and bustling cities burst with colour and activity. From world-class golf courses to amazing adventure activities and more - what’s not to love about this sensational destination?
One facet of Mauritius that isn’t quite as obvious as its splendid paradisaical appeal, is that it has a sensational blend of cultures and influences and an amazingly interesting past, which makes it a complex destination, each part of which is well worth discovering. One of the best ways to better acquaint yourself with the island is to explore the array of excellent museums in Mauritius.
Here are a few of our favourites:
The Blue Penny Museum
The cultural and historical hub of Mauritius is definitely the island’s busy capital city, Port Louis, which is where you will find the Blue Penny Museum (amongst many others). The museum can be found at the Caudan Waterfront and houses an exceptional array of stamps. The main attractions, however, are specifically the two stamps which the museum has been named after (and two of the rarest stamps in the world) - the blue two pence and the red one penny stamps. These were in circulation back when Mauritius was still a colony under British rule in 1847. This museum is one of the only places these stamps can be seen.
But it’s not all stamps here; special documents, statues (such as that of Paul and Virginie which dates back to 1881), maps and more can be found here, each of which played some role in the island’s interesting past.
The Mauritius Postal Museum
On the subject about stamps, another wonderful museum to visit in Mauritius is the Mauritius Postal Museum, situated in Port Louis. Enhanced by the beauty of the 18th-century building it is housed in, the Mauritius Postal Museum unsurprisingly showcases objects related to the postal history of the island. Once again, the rare red and blue penny stamps can be seen here as can photographs of old postal houses and a number of post or post office related paraphernalia from the mid-19th century. There is a small gift store for those that would like to buy memorabilia.
The Mauritius Photography Museum
Located close to the theatre of Port Louis, the Mauritius Photography Museum is a small, private museum dedicated to early photography and cinematography in Mauritius. Items of interest include old cameras, lenses, projection, printing equipment and much more. You will be able to see old pictures of Mauritius and marvel at how much the country has developed.
The Natural History Museum of Port Louis
One of the most popular and insightful museums in Mauritius is the Natural History Museum of Port Louis. The displays here centre on the incredible array of animals that can be found in Mauritius and the surrounding islands. Originally divided into four sections, the museum now only has three galleries; in the first, the birds that can be found in Mauritius (along with a few other interesting land creatures) are presented, the second centres on marine life and the third has a dodo display, the famous Mauritian bird that has been extinct since the Dutch occupation of the islands.
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Memorial Centre for Culture
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam played a hugely significant role in Mauritius’ independence from the British, and he was named the first prime minister of the island. This memorial centre honours him and his fight for freedom but it’s also the house where he once practised medicine. The site is enhanced by a bronze statue of the leader and a collection of his belongings.
L’Aventure du Sucre
For those who enjoy a picturesque museum, a trip to Mauritius is basically incomplete without going to L’Aventure du Sucre, an extraordinary sugar factory in Pamplemousse. This museum houses objects and machinery that were instrumental to the old sugar industry in Mauritius, all the way from the Dutch introduction of the sugar plantations to the modern-day machinery. The gift shop has an array of fabulous local trinkets and even some of the local rum for sale.
The Chateau Labourdonnais
This stunning colonial house, situated in Mapou (the Rivière du rampart district), is located on an old sugar estate and gives visitors a marvellous peak at what life was like for the colonialists when they settled in Mauritius. Here one can find old objects and documents from the old owners and a detailed history of the house. Visitors will even have an opportunity to see how it was restored and renovated. There is a lovely souvenir store on site as well.
Another phenomenal mansion, which was turned into the museum it is today, the Maison Eureka in Moka boasts the typical Creole Conolial flair and is a wonderful place to see antique furniture, photographs, books and more. The building was built in the 19th century and the perfectly manicured gardens are one of the property’s biggest drawcards. You can peruse the small gift store or even grab a bite to eat and experience the local Mauritian cuisine.
The Mahébourg National History Museum
Another of the important museums in Mauritius is the Mahébourg National History Museum. Located in the southeast of the island, this phenomenal building was once a French colonial house and was first built in 1772. Other names for the building include the Naval Museum, Chateau Gheulde and Maison Robillard.
Here visitors are able to explore a huge array of objects and artefacts that relate to the history of Mauritius, with items found from shipwrecks, gold, silver, buttons, trading beads, photos amongst other fascinating objects. The artefacts are all arranged according to the period in history from which they come.
An incredibly important museum and site in Mauritius, Aapravasi Ghat served a type of immigration depot, where the boats full of indentured labourers (mainly from India) arrived after slavery had been abolished from the island. Well worth a visit for greater insight into this period and the history of Mauritius and its people as a whole, this is definitely one of the must-visit museums in Mauritius.
The Frederik Hendrik Museum
Found in the Vieux Grand Port area, the Frederik Hendrik Museum is a unique site in that it’s actually built on the ruins of a Dutch fort - not just any Dutch fort though, the first of its kind. Still evident today are the ruins of the blacksmith workshop, the bakery, prison, a lodge and remnants of the first Catholic church in Mauritius, dating back to 1737. There is also a fascinating exhibit, relating to the site and its time in history.