A Visit to the Bob Marley Museum

The Bob Marley Museum was not on my list of places to see on this visit to Kingston but when my other plans fell through, it sounded like the perfect backup.

Bob Marley Museum entrance
Entrance to the museum

Located at 56 Hope Road in a 19th-century colonial house that was the home the Reggae superstar, Rastaman and activist was living in when he died in 1981, it was converted into a museum by his widow, Rita Marley, and opened to the public on May 11, 1986.

On the main floor of the Bob Marley Museum is a working recording studio, memorabilia from Marley’s performances, and numerous awards. Included as well are costumes that were worn by the I Threes — Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths — his backup singers from 1974, and an image of Bob.

Bob Marley Museum
Bob Marley’s former home

On the second floor, Bob’s bedroom with his guitar, looks like he’d be returning any minute to get it. Next to the room is a kitchen, family room turned portrait gallery and a replica of the record shop the Wailers owned. Included is the bicycle they used to deliver their records. The second floor also has memorabilia from Bob’s trips to Africa, including his performance at Zimbabwe’s independence celebration.

The tour includes a visit to the room that gunmen sprayed with bullets in 1976 in an attempt on the singer’s life. Rita, Bob and their manager were wounded. Unfortunately, the bullet that hit Bob in the arm could not be removed. The attack was widely believed to be politically motivated.

Bob had planned a free concert, Smile Jamaica, and been outspoken about the glaring inequities within the Jamaican society. In the tense and violent run-up to the 1976 general election, his comments were perceived to be supportive of the ruling PNP of Michael Manley and against the JLP’s Edward Seaga, had allegedly been receiving backing from the US and the CIA. Graffiti at the time labeled Seaga “CIA-ga.”

Mural at Bob Marley Museum
Mural with images of Bob and the Wailers

Two days following the shooting, Bob performed, as scheduled, at the Smile Jamaica concert which was held at National Heroes Park. However, after the concert, he left the island for England where he spent 18 months.  Now the walls of the room are plastered with newspaper accounts of the incident except for a few areas where bullets pierced the brick.

Sign at the Bob Marley Museum
Sign at the cafe – Friendship keeps your heart full

The museum also features Bob’s original mixing board. The tour ends with a 20-minute film, with the pulsating rhythms and unforgettable lyrics playing in the background, and featuring footage of interviews with the reggae artist.

In the courtyard of the Bob Marley Museum are several murals, one with images of Bob and his sons — the daughters’ are to be drawn. Bob had 12 children. Another mural is dedicated to Haile Selassie. Near the entrance, the wall is covered by photos of Bob, the Wailers and the I-Threes. A statue of the singer, in an iconic pose – right fist clenched, reaching above his head, his left clasping his guitar – stands near the entrance to the museum. There’s also a restaurant, Legend Cafe. In the back, a fish pond and a small marijuana plant.

Bob Marley Museum - Marijuana, ganja, weed, herb, collie or collie weed
Marijuana plant

Planning Your Visit to the Bob Marley Museum

Bob Marley Museum, 56 Hope Road, Kingston, 927-5152
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9:30 first tour, 4:00 last tour
Tour lasts an hour
Cost: US$25 (Non-Resident Adults); US$12 (Non-Resident Children aged 4-12); J$500 (Residents, with proper ID)
No photography is not allowed during the tour however, photos can be taken after.

 

27 comments on “A Visit to the Bob Marley Museum

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Marcia. I interviewed Ziggy and Damian Marley several years ago and had heard about the museum, but have never heard a first-hand account from anyone who’s been there. Have you ever been to Peter Tosh’s mausoleum in Bluefields? I went there a few years back and wound up getting to meet his mom. I’m a diehard reggae fan (Burning Spear is my favorite), so it was an amazing experience. Never been to Kingston though…
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  2. Oh, anyone who’s a Burning Spear fan is a friend of mine! Love the Spear.
    The museum’s definitely worth a trip. I’m planning to follow up with a trip to Nine Miles.
    Would you believe I haven’t seen Tosh’s mausoleum? I’m embarrassed because it’s pretty close to where I’m from originally. I’ll have to put it on my Westmoreland list. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. I didn’t realize his reach until a friend went to Brazil and brought me back a recording of a Brazilian singer doing No Woman, No Cry in Portuguese. This was maybe in the late 70s. He’s been given an Order of Merit by the government and in 1995, I believe, the post office issued a set of stamps to mark his 50th birthday. I should have a set around here somewhere.

  4. Where did you stay, Anna? Sorry you missed it but make sure it’s on your list for the next time.
    Thanks for visiting. I tried to leave a comment on your site but I got an error message when I hit the submit button.

  5. Oh, that must have been fun to play with Bob. Nice memories. Yes, I know of Levi Roots, pretty cool that you got to interview him.
    Thanks for stopping by, Kat.

  6. I never knew there’s a Bob Marley museum. This is such a haven for Marley fans. 😀 From what I know, Marijuana is legal in some parts of the world. It seems that Jamaica is one of them. Am I right? 🙂

  7. Hahaha, actually, it isn’t legal here either, Tiffany, though I think we’ve given everyone that impression!
    The museum is definitely the perfect place for fans. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  9. I’ve yet to visit but it does look like a good day out! I’ve yet to come across someone that doesn’t like Bob Marley. His music touched so many people.

  10. I will right away grasp your rss feed as I can’t to find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

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