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Museums and historical monuments

 There are a number of museums in Mauritius displaying the history, art and culture of the island. The Mauritius Museum Council- a body corporate under the aegis of the Ministry of Arts and Culture was established by the Mauritius Museums Council Act No. 3 of 2000 to replace the Mauritius Institute. It is managed by the Mauritius Museums Board.

The Mauritius Museums Council has two National and six specialized museums under its purview. Here is a list of some of the best museums in Mauritius.

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum in Mauritius is among the various museums in Mauritius displaying various artifacts that reflect the history, art and culture of the island. Natural History Museum in Mauritius is situated on the ground floor of the Mauritius Institute Building, right in front of the 'Jardin de la Compagnie', at the center of the City of Port Louis. For the maintenance of the museums in Mauritius, the Mauritius Museum Council - a body corporate under the aegis of the Ministry of Arts and Culture was established. It is managed by the Mauritius Museums Board.

The Natural History Museum, a National Museum is found at the centre of Port Louis. This museum in Mauritius has originated from the Desjardins Museum, which was opened in 1842. The Natural History Museum is the oldest museum of Mauritius and is also amongst the oldest in southern Africa.

The Mauritius Institute Building, which is home to the Natural History Museum, was constructed between 1880 and 1884. This building is listed as a National Heritage Site. This one-storey building is a partial copy of the Colombo Museum building in Sri Lanka. Its plans were designed by the British architect M. Mann. The Natural History Museum, Mauritius displays a rich collection of objet d'art, that reflects the art, culture and history of Mauritius. If you are a tourist and have the knack to know about the past of Mauritius then there cannot be a better place than the Natural History Museum, Mauritius. It makes for one of the most popular tourist attraction in MauritiusThe collections at the Natural History Museum date from early 1800 and contain unique and rare specimens of the fauna of Mauritius and surrounding islets. The collection comprised mainly marine fauna and birds from the Mascarene Islands. It formed the basis of the present day Natural History Museum. The museum also showcases collections, studies and recordings of various types of endemic fauna and flora of Mauritius and the Mascarene Islands. .





Over the years, Natural History Museum, Mauritius has developed into a centre of documentation and exchange in the various fields of natural history of the Mascarenes region.

Natural History Museum
Mauritius Institute
La Chaussée.Port Louis
Tel: 212-0639

National History & the Naval Relics Museum

The National History Museum is situated at Mahebourg, in a fine park extending to about 12 acres, on the bank of River La Chaux. It is housed in Chateau Gheude an old French colonial country house built around 1772 and presently listed as a national heritage. The National History Museum finds its origin in the Naval Relics Museum and the Museum of Historical Souvenirs. The Naval Relics Museum was set up by the Mauritius Railways in 1934. The museum exhibited the objects (canons, mortars, part of hulk, bottles) retrieved from the shipwreck La Magicienne in 1933 and 1934 by H.C.M. Austen, engineer at the Mauritius Railways.

Naval Museum
Mahebourg
Tel: 631-9329

Robert Edward Hart Memorial Museum

The Robert Edward Hart Memorial Museum is located in the newly renovated coral bungalow by the seashore at Souillac. It is at this place that the Mauritian poet spent the last years of his life. After the death of Robert Edward Hart in 1954, the premises were purchased by the Government in 1963, to set up a museum to perpetuate the memory of the great poet. The building was repaired and the museum was opened to the public on 6 November 1967. The museum was renovated completely and reopened on 17 August 2003 on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Robert Edward Hart.

Souillac
Tel: 625-6101

Sookdeo Bissoondoyal Memorial Museum

The Sookdeo Bissoondoyal Memorial Museum is located on the main road in the village of Tyack, Rivière des Anguilles. It is found in the house where Sookdeo Bissoondoyal was born. The mission of the Sookdeo Bissoondoyal Memorial Museum is to perpetuate the memory of the person after whom it has been named. It informs the public about the life and work of Sookdeo Bissoondoyal as a great leader who contributed towards the independence of Mauritius and the education of the poor, especially the Indo-Mauritian.

Frederik Hendrik Museum

The Frederik Hendrik Museum is located on the south-east coast of Mauritius. It is situated at the Vieux Grand Port Historic Site, the cradle of Mauritian History. This is the site of the first human settlement in Mauritius. The Frederik Hendrik Museum was opened on 27 May 1999 by Hon. Joseph Tsang Mang Kin, Minister of Arts and Culture. Since 1997, the museum received many objects in its collection as a result of the ongoing archaeological excavation work on the site, undertaken by a group of Dutch researchers. Over the years new exhibits, retracing the history of the site, have been added in the museum.

Mauritius Postal Museum

The Mauritius Postal Museum is located in an old stone building, adjacent to the Post Office Building, along the motorway in Port Louis. This 18th century building also served as Civil Hospital in the past and is now listed as a National Heritage. The mission of the Mauritius Postal Museum is to collect, preserve and display the postal and philatelic heritage of Mauritius, and to promote interest in and study of Mauritian stamps and philately.

Blue Penny Museum

Located on Port-Louis's Caudan seafront, this museum tells the history of the island through an interactive trail exhibiting a mix of navigation maps, journal excerpts and old maps of the capital city posted next to present day photographs. The major piece however is the famous Blue Penny, the stamp which inaugurated Mauritian Mail in 1847. Only 500 were printed and there are only 5 left today, each worth the modest sum of £800,000!

Founded in 2001 by the Mauritius Commercial Bank, the Blue Penny Museum is the only philatelic museum in Mauritius found at the Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis. It is usually open on week days and Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm and closed on Sundays and public holidays. The entrance fee is about £5 per adult and £2 for children under 18; special offers are made for groups with more than 10 people. The collection is very interestingly presented with modern staging, light, sound and multimedia techniques.

The museum is divided into seven distinct areas with specific themes. The first room, The age of discovery, with its beautiful starry roof, contains old globes, charts, old navigational instruments and models about the early navigators between the 16th and 19th century who were travelling through the Mascarene on their way to China and India for trading. It also contains relics of the wrecked ship, Banda, used by Pieter Both, the first governor of the Dutch East Indies.

The second room, a highly coveted land, relates the tale of the island once the French led by Mahe de Labourdonnais turned it into a wonderful settlement and how it was coveted by other nations sailing through the Mascarene. Documents, manuscripts including the first accurate map of the island drawn by Abbe de la Caille during that time period as well as engravings and documents of the famous conquest of the island by the British in 1810 are found there.

The third room, Port Louis a leading city, focuses on the capital of the island through documents, lithographs and watercolours of different important areas of the capital such as the entrance to the market place, the harbour and Malartic’s tomb. Life in the capital in 1859 can be seen through four interesting lithographs in the museum.

The fourth room, the postal adventure, relates the history of postage in Mauritius including the jars used for posting messages and other items. It houses a rare and important collection of stamps amongst which are the Red Penny and Blue Penny stamps also known as the 1 d Post Office and 2 d Post Office stamps issued in 1847 which were the first stamps used in Mauritius.

The sixth room, Paul and Virginie, contains numerous scripts and books of the famous novel of Bernadin de Saint Pierre which was inspired by the wreck of the ship Saint Geran along the coasts of the island; also found there are relics of the ship and the striking marble statue of the couple by Prosper d’Epinay.

The last room, Fine Arts, contains an amazing mix of the works of numerous artists who have contributed to the culture of the island in one way or another.
The museum also has a souvenir shop where notepads, envelopes, paper, bookmarks and miniature models of the artefacts in the museum are sold. In order to understand the culture and story of the island, visiting the Blue Penny Museum is indeed important.

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