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Delve Into the Rich Art & History of Antigua

Updated: Nov 29, 2018

In Antigua, it seems as if art is all around you – in each thread of the brilliant fabrics worn by locals, every petal of the tropical orchids & all of the pristine white-sand beaches. Still, amidst all the color in the island's rich palette, there are also a variety of museums & galleries to visit on your next luxury vacation. At these sites, you can observe different eras in history while gaining a new perspective on the stunning landscapes.

Antigua & Barbuda Museum A visit to Antigua isn't complete without trekking to this museum, which is housed in the original 1750 Court of Justice, one of the oldest standing buildings in St. John. Architect Peter Harrison built the structure from yellow freestone that was quarried from off-shore islands surrounding Antigua. The museum was established with a goal of preserving the island's history & heritage, & the various exhibitions showcase momentous events, such as the Colonial Era, the advent of the Amerindians & the emancipation of the slaves. History buffs will delight in observing an array of vestiges from old shipwrecks, military fortifications & a wealth of information on Antiguan war veterans, sugar factories & trade unionism. Feast your eyes on a life-size replica of an Arawak dwelling & even the bat of Sir Viv Richards, one of the greatest cricket players of all time.

Harmony Hall The openings for monthly exhibitions at Harmony Hall, which typically happen on the first Sunday from November to April, are just as much a social event as they are a cultural learning experience. Mix & mingle at this intimate gallery with respected local artists & collectors while sipping on complimentary cocktails. Since there's a wide range of price tags on works here, you might be able to afford a meaningful memento, which the gallery will ship anywhere in the world. Annual highlights include the Antigua Artist's Exhibition & the Craft Fair in November. The sugar mill tower around which Harmony Hall is built has been converted into a bar, & provides patrons with one of the island's best panoramic views, including one of Nonsuch Bay. After surveying the artwork, stop by the adjoining Harmony Hall Restaurant, where chefs serve up mouth-watering Mediterranean-style cuisine.

Art at the Ridge Based in the beautiful Sugar Ridge Village opposite Jolly Harbour, this is one of the island's newest spots to explore the art of Antigua & was voted one of The Culture Trip's Top 10 Art Galleries in the Caribbean. With works on display by artists both on the island & abroad, you'll find everything from hand-painted "shakers" (seed pods from the flamboyant tree, pottery, sculptures, naturally made soaps & jams made from locally grown fruit. You can also pick up a book on the art, history & culture of Antigua at the craft gift shop. Art at the Ridge prides itself on keeping prices the same as when the works were bought directly from the artist or artisan at their own studio, meaning regardless of your budget, you can likely purchase a piece of your own.

Betty's Hope Built in 1674 & located in the limestone district of quaint rural Antigua, Betty's Hope was the island's first sugar plantation. Now, two stone windmills & a distillery remain on the site along with a visitor's center, which contains early estate plans, pictures, maps & artifacts. Surrounded by captivating vistas & a rolling landscape to the distant ocean, travelers can take an informative tour for historical insights into the significance that sugar plantations had in Antigua's economy.

Whether you're an art or history aficionado or still new to these realms, there's plenty for Beach Bums to see & learn on their next luxury vacation to this culturally rich island.

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