Turks and Caicos are a beautiful group of islands out in the Caribbean Ocean that will deliver everything that you expect from a vacation. From the soft sandy beaches and the luxury resorts, to great water sports and scuba diving, the islands have it all. Having being blessed with all that is good in the world such as year round sunshine, the turquoise ocean and the green unspoiled mountains, Turks and Caicos promises the traveller a great outdoor experience. But it must be remembered that these islands also have an interesting historical story to tell, and a visit to the Turks and Caicos National Museum is the best place to start discovering this tale of colonialism, slavery, plantations and piracy.
This publicly funded non-profit museum chronicles the history of these islands, from their geology and natural history to the evolution of different animal species. The first Europeans to arrive here were the Spaniards in the late 15th or early 16th century. Many agree that Ponce de Leon was the first to write about the islands in 1512.
In following years the islands went through a period of dramatic economic and social change, as the natives were pushed out by the colonial masters to establish plantations. A reminder of this era is evident in the Molasses Reef Shipwreck exhibit that is on display at the museum; this supposedly the oldest European shipwreck to be salvaged in the western hemisphere and was only discovered in the 1970’s by a group of treasure hunters. Some of the items that have been salvaged from the wreck are on display at the museum.
Another interesting exhibit at the Turks and Caicos National Museum is the one that chronicles the slave trade on the island. Slaves were first brought to the islands to work in the salt industry which was also the first ever commercial enterprise here. Later on, as the island diversified into sugar cane, cotton and sisal plantations the slave trade grew. Stories of individual slaves and their struggle for freedom are told on the beautifully laid out storyboards.