Comprising over 17,000 pieces, the National Historic and Ethnographic Collection of the Institute includes an assortment of material artefacts that date back to the pre-Columbian era; which allows for the telling of our history and national narratives through visual means. The Institute of Jamaica boasts a total of six major and miscellaneous collections.
The oldest of these reflects on the socio-economic and political characteristics of the Tainos – Jamaica’s first people.
The Slavery collection addresses the experiences of enslaved Africans through implements of punishment and torture, the most horrific being the Gibbet, a human cage.
The Post Emancipation Collection comprises objects reflecting Jamaican society after slavery and the industries that blacks engaged in during the immediate post-emancipation period. It examines how freed blacks used their ingenuity to make a life for themselves with inventions such as the pimento fanner.
The African Collection is comprised of artefacts from the Silva, Claus Petri, Percy Jeff,Harper and Chevallier Syers Collections .This ethnographic collection reflects the social, economic and political life of West and East African societies.
The Port Royal Collection, primarily recovered from underwater archaeological excavations, represents the fascinating history of Port Royal before and after the earthquake in 1692.
The Miscellaneous collection holds an assortment of pieces. A footstool from National Hero George William Gordon, National Hero, Marcus Garvey’s walking stick, jewelry making tools used by indentured East Indians. Musical instruments such as the Goombeh from the Maroons represent an important instrument used in religious ceremonies
A representative set of objects from each collection are presented on our website to promote and facilitate public awareness and to preserve the memory of the history surrounding these objects. Students and researchers are to be facilitated.