The Bahamas has a complicated history, beginning before the discovery of the New World by Columbus. At one time under British rule, the Bahamas is now an independent nation with a diverse historical background. As a result, Bahamian artists have a lot of different cultures to draw inspiration from, and the local art scene reflects this. We’ve rounded up the best places to visit in Nassau to get an appreciation of each of these different phases in Bahamian history.
Junkanoo is an integral part of Bahamian culture and is by far the most celebrated arts festival in the country. It takes place every Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and during the summer. It has been recognized as one of the most entertaining street festivals, not only in the Caribbean but also the world. Junkanoo consists of different musical groups doing three laps around a predetermined route, for the entertainment of spectators and also to be graded by judges. Each group is graded on their music, costumes and group presentation. Groups can have up to 1000 performers and members range from high school students to adults.
The Junkanoo Expo is a museum that showcases some of the best costumes from past Junkanoo parades, and included a gift shop that sells souvenirs such as posters, music and artwork. This a great place for visitors to get an up-close look at the design of costumes, which is difficult to fully appreciate when watching the festival from afar.
This studio showcases artwork from local artists, with Junkanoo artworks being especially celebrated. The purpose of the studio is to promote Bahamian cultural and local artists. Some examples of artwork are costumes, paintings, masks and sculptures.
The Bahamas Historical Society Museum
This is a non-profit cultural and historical museum meant to showcase Bahamian history and culture. This museum traces history from the pre-Columbus period, when the Lucayans inhabited the Bahamas, all the way up until the present.