Nassau is home to several museums, with the Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation being one of the most impactful. Located in a historic building, the museum highlights the history of both slavery and emancipation.
Pompey Museum Nassau is one of several museums and historic sites on New Providence. However, it’s particularly worth visiting, as the museum highlights one of the most important elements of Bahamian history: slavery. Its historic structure and convenient location further make it a great destination to explore.
Centuries ago, Nassau was nothing more than a group of simple buildings, shacks, and palm trees. When non-native people first colonized the island, they knew the settlement that developed as Charles Towne.
Slavery played an integral role in early colonial life, with the first slaves arriving in the Caribbean in the 17th century. During this time, slaves worked in households and on vast plantations.
In 1784, a structure called Vendue House appeared in public records. Thought to have been constructed decades earlier, the building functioned as a market, where goods of all varieties were bought and sold. For decades, this included slaves.
Great Britain abolished slavery in 1833, but it took a couple of decades for freed peoples to fully gain equal rights. Following this emancipation, the Vendue House functioned as a telegraph and telephone center, before later housing the city’s electrical department.
In 1992, the Pompey Museum Nassau changed its name to Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation. Its name honors the slave, Pompey, who led a slave revolt on Great Exuma.
Pompey Museum Nassau isn’t huge, but it contains several artifacts along with massive amounts of information.
The exhibits cover the history of slavery in the Bahamas, as well as what happened after emancipation. They also touch on how in different parts of the world today, forms of modern slavery continue to exist.
While its exact construction date is unknown, Vendue House has been around since at least 1784. That dates back to before the United States was a country and when much of the world was under European control.
As you walk around the building and view its exterior, try to keep the remarkable perspective in mind.
Pompey Square is right next to the Pompey Museum Nassau and is another one of the top things to do in Downtown Nassau. It further honors Pompey, the slave, but also features several modern amenities.
The square offers great views of the Nassau Cruise Port and borders several restaurants and bars.
Nassau Old Town refers to a section of the city that houses many of the island’s historic and cultural attractions. This area also happens to be the city’s downtown, which makes getting into the area, including Pompey Museum Nassau, simple.
The Nassau Cruise Port is also downtown, so if you’re entering the island by boat, you won’t have far to go. The museum is on Bay Street Nassau, the main road running across the highway, so it shouldn’t take you more than five to seven minutes to reach the museum.
The museum is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. The museum is closed on Sundays. On Thursday, it closes early at 1:00 pm. It’s also closed on public holidays.
Ticket prices (as of 2023*) are $5 per person.
The Pompey Museum Nassau is small, so it won’t take you too long to see the different exhibits on display. As you explore, however, make sure to also appreciate the Vendue House. As mentioned, it’s one of the oldest structures on the island.
After finishing your tour of the museum, spend some time exploring the other Nassau Old Town attractions. Fort Fincastle, Queen’s Staircase, and the Buena Vista Estate at John Watling’s Rum Distillery are all worth checking out.
While it’s important for travelers of all ages to understand the history of the Bahamas, most of the exhibits in the Pompey Museum Nassau feature long explanatory texts. Because of that, young children may have a hard time understanding everything. If you do bring kids to the museum, take some time to discuss what you learn!
While you can’t go wrong with visiting any of the island’s historic sites, the Pompey Museum Nassau is one of the best on New Providence. From the historical exhibits to the 18th-century structure, there’s a lot to see and learn at the museum.
Nassau Old Town is full of history, culture, and more. After exploring the Pompey Museum Nassau, make sure to check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum, the Bahamas Historical Society, and the Heritage Museum of the Bahamas.
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