Just adjacent to the bustling city center at Sam Sharpe Square in Montego Bay is the former Montego Bay Civic Centre, now called National Gallery West. Our visit to this cultural treasure trove of art and history actually turned out to be a two-for-one special!
We started in the gallery area upstairs where there was a sculptural exhibit called The Art of Jamaican Sculpture. Our guide Monique showed work from artists like Edna Manley, “Fitz” Harrack, Kay Sullivan and others. Funnily, I had grown up with at least three of these artists’ work in my home. Here, at the temporary exhibit, we saw carved works in wood, alabaster, stone and a variety of other materials before heading downstairs to the National Museum West.
Our tour guide there, Zoe, took us on a guided tour of the Rastafari exhibit, a temporary fixture that had already been there for several years, that included videos and informational panels on Rastafari livity (ways of life) and doctrines. We learned a tremendous amount including some very disturbing details on how Alexander Bustamante incarcerated and murdered many rastas simply for practicing their faith, and for wearing their locks.
We moved over to the permanent exhibit across the lobby, where relics of sugar plantations, slavery, travel, dressmaking, cooking and other historical elements of Jamaican life were on display.
Click National Museum West and the National Gallery West to watch my live tours. Visit both on your next trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica to learn more and enjoy these cultural curiosities. Here are some great photos, compliments of photographer David I. Muir.