Turks and Caicos National Museum

The Turks and Caicos National Museum is the only museum that you will find in the Turks and Caicos island chain. As such, many cultural enthusiast on Turks and Caicos vacations have it high on their list of attractions. At this wonderful institution, the island's culture and history are on display, and it's all housed in a building that is more than 150 years old. The building is known as the Guinep House, and you might be interested to know that it was largely constructed using timbers from ships that wrecked on the area reefs. Nearly half of the museum's areas focus on one shipwreck in particular. That wreck is known as the Molasses Reef Shipwreck.

Of all the European shipwrecks that have been excavated in the Western Hemisphere, none is dated earlier than the Molasses Reef Wreck. The ship in question was a Spanish sailing ship that was believed to have been used for exploratory excursions. The year that it met its demise was 1513. The ship hit a reef approximately twenty miles south of Providenciales, and the damage was enough to cause it to sink. Two divers who were treasure hunting found the wreck in the mid-1970s, and while some thought it might be Christopher Columbus's ship, the Nina, these claims were ultimately negated. Unfortunately, a team of treasure hunters dynamited the Molasses Reef Wreck before archaeologists from Texas A&M University arrived to excavate in 1981.

The entire first floor of the Turks and Caicos National Museum is dedicated to the Molasses Reef Wreck. Thankfully, the archaeologists from Texas A&M found a rich array of objects at the wreck site, so there is plenty to see between the museum's exhibits. The various artifacts include cannons, surgical tools, storage jars, tools that were used for tailoring purposes, and pieces from the ship's hull.

When you're not learning about the Molasses Reef Wreck during your visit to the Turks and Caicos National Museum, you can check out the other wonderful exhibits. These exhibits relate to things such as the territory's pre-Columbian cultures, its subsequent plantation history, and its natural history. Also among the highlights is the exhibit that features a 3D reproduction of the famed Grand Turk Wall. This wall is one of the top Turks and Caicos dive sites, thanks to its deep plunge and its amazing reefs.

The main museum in the Turks & Caicos isn't the only attraction that culturally minded visitors will want to consider adding to the agenda. There are some interesting historic sites in the island chain, and they include the Grand Turk Lighthouse. Also found on the island of Grand Turk is the capital city of Cockburn Town. It was founded in 1681 and features a fair amount of historic edifices. These edifices include the National Museum's Guinep House building.

Grand Turk island is found in the Turks Islands chain. For history enthusiasts who find themselves in the Caicos Islands chain instead, a worthy attraction is the Wades Green Plantation on North Caicos. The island of North Caicos was home to numerous plantations in the 1700s and 1800s. The ruins of this one near the town of Kew include a stone house, various outbuildings, and surrounding walls. Tours of the Wades Green Plantation can be arranged through the Turks and Caicos National Trust.

Image: Turks & Caicos National Museum Facebook page
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