Archive, research library, gift shop and museum collection all in one, the Turks & Caicos National Museum is housed in one of Grand Turk’s most impressive colonial buildings, Guinep House.
The history of the Turks & Caicos islands is explored in the museum’s exhibits, which include stamps, coins and photographs. Best of all is the fascinating Message in a Bottle collection, revealing the often poignant messages sent from sinking ships and shipwrecked sailors.
Don’t miss the display on the Molasses Reef Wreck, the oldest shipwreck to have been excavated in the Americas. Artifacts retrieved from the early-1500s wreck include cannons, surgical implements, bowls and tools, along with the vessel’s hull.
You’ll also see tools and artifacts formed from shells, and displays on the island’s original Lucayan people.
More recent exhibits look at NASA’s Space Program and the personal memories of astronaut John Glenn, who splashed down just offshore in 1962 and was the first American to orbit the earth.
Special guided tours are held for cruise visitors, expanding on shipwreck history, the island’s salt industry and the John Glenn exhibit.
The museum is housed in the whitewashed and red-roofed Guinep House, a historic colonial building constructed almost 200 years ago from the salvaged timber of shipwrecks.
After browsing the exhibits, head to the Museum Shop to buy locally crafted jewelry, sea salt, coffee, woven baskets and guidebooks.
The Turks & Caicos National Museum is in Guinep House, on the waterfront in Front Street, Cockburn Town.
The Molasses Reef Shipwreck exhibit is on the first floor, the John Glenn exhibit on the second. To rest your feet, take a seat on Guinep House’s lovely balcony, facing Front Street and the ocean.