Nassau has a lot of history to dive into, and the Nassau Public Library and Museum is the perfect place to do it. Functioning as both a collection of knowledge and a historical site, it’s a great attraction to add to your Nassau itinerary.
The Nassau Public Library and Museum is one of the oldest and most interesting attractions in the Nassau area. With its rich history, unique architecture, collection of reading rooms, and convenient location, anyone hoping to learn about the culture and history of the Bahamas won’t want to miss out.
Like many buildings in Nassau Old Town, the Nassau Public Library and Museum has a history that stretches back hundreds of years. Originally constructed between 1798-1800, it is the only octagonal historic structure in the archipelago.
Contrary to being a place of knowledge at the time of its construction, a loyalist named Joseph Eve built the structure to be a jail and correctional workhouse. It served that purpose until 1873, when a new prison allowed the conversion of the building into a library and museum.
Today, you can still see the four-story-high building with all its original stone. Inside, instead of housing prisoners, you’ll see books, artifacts, and more.
The Nassau Public Library and Museum has a lot to offer. This is the same for the other nearby Nassau Old Town attractions.
The Nassau Public Library and Museum is inside the pink octagonal building. From perusing through the books and artifacts to enjoying the modern renovations that the museum has done to the structure, you can spend a good chunk of time exploring the nooks and crannies.
Make sure to go to the top floor when you visit. There you’ll find a balcony offering beautiful views of the Nassau area.
Just around the corner from the Nassau Public Library and Museum is the Magna Carta Court, another one of Nassau’s oldest structures. Built in the 1780s, it’s one of the few buildings with exposed stone in Nassau.
Throughout its history, the building passed from hand to hand, and today houses the office of a law firm. Despite these changes, the building remains an interesting part of Nassau’s history to this day.
Another historic site close to the Nassau Public Library and Museum is the Bahamas Historical Society. From 10 am to 4 pm, Monday to Tuesday and Thursday to Friday, guests can enter one of the best places on the island to learn about Nassau’s history.
From Nassau’s pre-Columbian history to its time as a British colony, the collection of artifacts is jaw-dropping.
Right near the Nassau Public Library and Museum and Parliament Square is the Cenotaph. This memorial commemorates the Bahamian veterans who served their country in World War I and II. It’s another great stop to make as you tour the area.
Nassau Old Town has a central downtown location that makes it easy to visit. The Nassau Public Library and Museum is at the intersection of Parliament Street and Shirley Street, the latter of which is just a block off Bay Street, the main Nassau thoroughfare.
If you’re arriving by boat, it shouldn’t take you more than five minutes to walk to the library. Alternatively, taxis and buses can also help you get there if you’re staying at a hotel somewhere else on New Providence.
The best way to explore the site is by making it a part of a larger Nassau Old Town tour. Parliament Square, Queen’s Staircase, and Fort Fincastle are all close by and serve as other top things to do in Downtown Nassau.
The library is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4:45 pm.
The Nassau Public Library comprises four floors. If you’re interested in actually picking up a book, the lower floor houses children’s books, adult fiction, and paperback novels. Similarly, there are also public computers that you can use.
The upper floor is home to reference and non-fiction books, as well as historical artifacts. The floor above that is an attic-like space where the museum stores the artifacts that aren’t on display. That’s also where travelers can access the balcony.
Make sure to visit the nearby Bahamas Historical Society. It features a huge array of artifacts and is one of the best places to learn more about the country’s past. While you might need to pay a donation upon entering, this goes towards supporting the museum.
The Nassau Public Library and Museum has a number of features that make visiting it one of the top things to do in Downtown Nassau. With a history stretching back hundreds of years and an extensive collection of books and reading rooms, the site showcases a side of Nassau that visitors often miss.
After stopping by the library and museum, you’ll find yourself in Nassau Old Town. If you’re interested in continuing your historical tour, make sure to visit other nearby sites like Fort Fincastle, Queen’s Staircase, and Parliament Square.
Nassau is full of exciting attractions that most travelers don’t even know exist. If you’re looking to learn more about these, check out our interactive map and some of our other travel guides.Explore our Nassau Travel Guides