The Bob Marley Museum – Kingston, Jamaica

Simply put, this place is the Mecca for all things Bob Marley. If you love the roots, rock and reggae, then a visit to 56 Hope Road is a must! Opened in 1987, the museum was curated by Bob’s wife, Rita Marley and parts of the house remain the same as in 1981, when Bob passed…

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Entrance to Bob Marley Museum on 56 Hope Road, Kingston

When you walk through the main gates, on your right you’ll see a theme park style visitor booth. This provides seating for tour groups, a place to relax, and most importantly shelter from the sun. The cost of the tickets are $25 USD for adults, $12 USD for under 12s, and free for under 3’s.

Tours leave every 30 minutes, and my tour guide came out and meet us out by the statue of Bob. There is a painted picture of the I-Three underneath the statute. The I-Three were: Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths, and Judy Mowatt – Bob’s backing singers and artists in their own right. There were about 10 people in the group, with die-hard fans, covered in Marley clothing from head to toe. There was also a gentleman in his 70s, who walked with a stick.

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Bob Marley statute with I-Three painting underneath

Outside

Our tour started with a walk around the grounds in the front of the house  -full of paintings and photographs from key points in Marley’s life. My favourite is a picture of Bob sitting under a mango tree:

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Photos of Bob Marley on the wall of the museum: Under the Mango Tree (left), Playing Football at 56 Hope Road (centre), and sitting on the steps outside the house (right).

…..and here’s the mango tree today.

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Bob’s mango tree in the back of 56 Hope Road

Inside

Next, it was time to inside the house, however it was not possible to take photographs from inside house – which was a shame. Here’s a picture of the house from the outside from the Bob Marley Museum website:

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Outside of the Bob Marley Museum (picture taken from the Bob Marley Museum website)

Most of the are kept authentic from when Marley lived at the house, such as a small kitchen and Bob’s bedroom My favourite room is the “exhibition room”, which houses various gold and platinum discs for Marley’s albums. Marley’s Lifetime Achievement Award Grammy awarded in 2001 takes pride of place in the centre of the room.

Our tour guide regularly shared some further “did you know” questions that Marley has achieved. Like, Time Magazine voting Exodus best album of the 20th century, and the BBC voting One Love best song of the millennium in 1999.

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Marley’s Lifetime Achievement Award Grammy and gold disc in the background (picture taken from the Bob Marley Museum website)

The Shot Room / cinema

Another poignant part of the tour is a visit to the The Shot Room, a rehearsal room where Bob and the Wailers practised for their concerts and shows. On 3 December 1976, gun men raided 56 Hope Road, and opened fire. Marley was shot in the chest and arm, Rita shot in the head, and two other shot in the chest and legs. There were no fatalities, but the bullet that hit Marley could not be removed, as Marley would have lost range of movement in his arm. You can see the bullet holes in the wall, now covered with perspex.

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The Shot Room

The tour ends with a visit to the 80-seat cinema, the former home of the Tuff Gong Records Studio. Here, we watch a film Bob’s life, his rise to fame, his exile in London, his death, and his legacy today.

Summary

This is THE experience is for anyone who loves reggae, has Bob Marley on their iTunes, or has worn one of those Rasta hats with the fake dreadlocks.  During the tour, I learned a lot about Bob and especially about his years spent in the UK. So, personally I found it educational and a good tourist attraction in Kingston.

One thing to note is that, given the it’s age of the house is not completely accessible. The website says it’s partially accessible for those with collapsible wheelchairs and walkers. So, this is may be a major consideration if you are a wheelchair user. Again, the stairs at the back of the house, are narrow, steep and may be inaccessible for some. Consequently, the chap from our tour took a bit longer to get around, but the group waited for him.

Marley’s achievements helped to catapult Jamaican culture across the world in the limelight in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. In short, if it wasn’t for the work and music of Bob Marley and his influence on culture during / since 1960s where would we be today?

Kingston, Jamaica

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