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The Kura Hulanda Museum

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Found in the heart of Otrobanda, the Kura Hulanda is both a resort and an anthropological museum. Fifteen buildings house hundreds of cultural artifacts, with a focus on Africa and the Atlantic slave trade. It’s an impressive collection… especially when you learn that it’s privately owned by a single man.

Kura Hulanda Museum

The museum takes visitors on a journey from the earliest days of man, with exhibits on evolution and the lands of Abraham, through the horrors of slavery, and into the present day and modern African culture. There are archaeological artifacts from the Middle East, paintings and prints from the days of colonialism, bizarre wooden death masks from the Dogon Culture, and much more.

Kura Hulanda Museum

We spent most of our time in the rooms dedicated to the slave trade, reading harrowing tales of the transatlantic journey suffered by the people who had been kidnapped from countries like Benin and Ghana. The basement of one building has been transformed to resemble the hold of a slaving ship, where hundreds of men and women were packed in and chained up. It’s sickening to learn how the sick would simply be tossed overboard, or how they were given almost no nourishment or water for the three-month journey, or how families were torn apart. Ah, humanity… what the hell is wrong with us?

Kura Hulanda Museum

There’s a lot to see in this museum, and nearly all of it is worthwhile. I could have spent an hour in the room dedicated to great African kingdoms of the past, such as the ancient Ghana Empire and the powerful Mali with their great center of learning at Timbuktu. There are further halls dedicated to the bronze art of Benin, the former Dutch colony of Suriname and the rise of Islam across Africa.

After finishing up at the museum, we checked out the rest of the Kura Hulanda Lodge, which is a large and evidently expensive tourist resort, and we came away conflicted. This lodge occupies an entire block of Otrobanda, giving its guests a central, authentically Curaçaoan place to spend their holidays. The old, residential buildings are beautiful, and it’s great that they’ve been renovated and given new purpose; looking at photos, it’s shocking how they had been left to deteriorate.

Kura Hulanda Museum

But these streets had been an once important part of Otrobanda, parallel to the main thoroughfare of Breedestraat, and a stone’s throw from the harbor. This had been a neighborhood where everyday folks lived and worked. Yes, it’s been renovated, but now it’s closed off to local traffic; an entire section of the most important zone in Otrobanda privately-owned and dedicated to tourism. We’d feel a lot better about the project, if the restored buildings had been sold back to regular folks. But I don’t suppose there would have been a lot of money in that.

Regardless of our feelings toward the lodge, we were impressed by the museum. It’s an astounding collection which manages to toe the line between entertaining and educational, and is worth the time and effort of visiting.

Location on our Map
Kura Hulanda Museum – Website

21 USD Car Rentals For Curacao Can Be Found Here

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January 20, 2016 at 8:46 pm Comments (0)

A Concise History of Curaçao

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Little is known about life on Curaçao prior to the arrival of the Europeans in 1499. But since then, it’s been a wild ride for the small Caribbean island. Here’s a short rundown of the major happenings in the history of Curaçao.

2900 BC Hunting tools and implements from the Archaic period are the earliest evidence yet discovered of human life on Curaçao.
1500 BC – 1499 AD The Arawak tribe settle across the Caribbean islands, including Curaçao. Their pottery has been found at sites across the island.
1499 Spaniard Alonso de Ojeda is the first European to discover Curaçao, and promptly subjugates the Arawak people he finds there, drafting them into his labor force and removing them from the island.
1632 Newly independent from Spanish rule, the Netherlands occupy Curaçao, and Willemstad is founded soon thereafter by the Dutch West India Company.
1662 The Dutch get in on the lucrative slave trade, and turn Curaçao into their primary trading center. Tens of thousands of Africans are brought here, to be sold throughout the New World.
1795 Slaves on Curaçao don’t just meekly accept their fate. Years after the first, short-lived Hato Uprising of 1750, up to 1000 slaves follow Tula in a major revolt. It doesn’t end well for the rebels, and after being betrayed by another slave, Tula is publicly tortured and executed.
1800 For years, control of Curaçao alternates between the English and the Dutch, with the former finally taking permanent possession in 1815.
1863 In the same year as Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the Netherlands finally abolish slavery in the Antilles. The freed slaves mostly continue to work on their former plantations, but are provided with land of their own, and paid a nominal wage.
1915 The Royal Dutch Shell Company establishes a major presence in Curaçao after the discovery of oil off the coast of Venezuela. Shell becomes by far the island’s largest employer and Curaçao’s fortunes become inextricably linked to the oil industry.
1969 Frustrated by the enduring economic and political inequality between blacks and whites, workers stage a labor strike that swiftly develops into a riot. Two die during the Trinta di Mei, as the riot is known in Papiamento.
Image: nrc.nl
1954 The Netherlands Antilles comes into being as an autonomous country under the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Willemstad is the capital of this collection of Caribbean islands, which also includes Aruba, Bonaire, Saint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius.
2010 Curaçao leaves the Netherlands Antilles, and becomes a country in its own right, although still under the crown of the Netherlands.
2015 and beyond A major Caribbean cruise port, Curaçao has seen its primary economic focus shift from oil to tourism. With pristine nature, a stable economy and political landscape, and a friendly, ethnically-diverse population, Curaçao is looking to the future with optimism as it begins to plot its own course in the world.
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December 23, 2015 at 7:25 pm Comments (0)
The Kura Hulanda Museum Found in the heart of Otrobanda, the Kura Hulanda is both a resort and an anthropological museum. Fifteen buildings house hundreds of cultural artifacts, with a focus on Africa and the Atlantic slave trade. It's an impressive collection... especially when you learn that it's privately owned by a single man.
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