Bob Marley Museum: Our Experience

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Image taken from the Bob Marley Museum website

Earlier this year one of our friends visited from overseas and said they had never been to the Bob Marley Museum. Of course we couldn’t allow them to go back without visiting the home of the Great – the Reggae Music legend – Robert Nesta Marley. We had only been to the Bob Marley Museum once anyway and we figured you can never do the tour too many times !

Now, we were skeptical about going again because our last time was so great; that last tour guide was so amazing and we figured she wouldn’t be there since the last time we went was about ten years ago [yes we a nuh spring chicken], But we couldn’t allow our friend to go alone, so here is a summary of our experience at The Bob Marley Museum:

The Bob Marley Museum

located at 56 Hope Road, Kingston

The Museum (which is Marley’s residence where he actually wrote and recorded some of his biggest hits) at this time (as of August 2015) charges JMD $500 for locals (who must present national ID) and US$20 for adults and US $10 for children. This cost may be subject to change but has been consistent for a few years.

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The entrance

The grounds are impeccably kept and you are instantly transported to a more relaxed state of mind, even though the museum is located in the middle of Kingston. After paying the admission fee at a small window, you are invited to take a seat by the cafe` until the next tour guide becomes available.

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Our tour begins…

Our tour guide eventually came and although we can’t recall his name, he was very energetic and talkative (more about himself than about the tour). The tour seemed to have been moving rapidly because we were the penultimate tour of the day [tours end at 4]. Our guide, while seemingly knowledgeable about Bob and his musical career, was a bit too eager to tell us about his own musical background – even leading us in terrible renditions of a few of Bob’s songs.

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One of our favourite images on the front wall – Bob Marley and the I-Threes

Although they have “renovated” the building to some extent (since the last time we went, about a decade ago), we appreciated that they still kept a lot of things pretty rustic or as close to authentic as possible – including the replica of the the Marley’s record shop (Rita use to sell Bob’s records from the back of her aunt’s house while they were still residing in Trench Town) and the studio.

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The property also houses the One Love Cafe` – which was started by Rita Marley many years ago, when Bob lived at the house.

Venturing back on the outside, we were reminded of February 6 – Bob Marley’s birthday – while it is not a holiday in Jamaica, it is a day of recognition for the Reggae Great. Several events are usually planned around that time to honour Marley’s birth – the largest of which take place on these very same grounds.

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Lion in Zion

Because of copyright issues concerning anything associated with someone as iconic as Bob Marley, there are certain areas in the house where you are not allowed to take photos.

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The road behind the museum is named after Bob Marley

Touring the studio and the room where he was shot [which still houses the bullet holes] felt almost surreal. However, the tour ended abruptly after we left that room. We were then escorted to a photo gallery [which we looked around for approximately 3 minutes] and then we were ushered into the theatre to watch a documentary about Bob. At this point, the tour guide said something about tipping him if you liked him [this turned us off, but we tipped him anyway].

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Mural of Emperor Haile Selassie, Bob Marley and all his male children

As we walked out of the theatre we saw his son, Rohan, having what seemed like a business meeting under a gazebo in the yard. That really made us feel like it was just a “chill place”. We must admit it was pretty cool seeing him just sitting and chatting there, it probably was the highlight of the tour. However, as we made our way to the gift shop we were informed by our tour guide that they had already closed. He diligently ran [literally sprinted] to ask someone to open it (after all we weren’t even the last tour that day) and she declined. We thought that was pretty bad customer service, pretty much a slap in the face. Some of the persons on the tour came from as far as Japan and were only waiting to complete the tour to buy souvenirs. That was really poor.

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Statue of Bob Marley, in the centre of the yard. The base has three photos: the I-Threes, Emperor Haile Selassie and a lion.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad tour – with a story like Bob Marley’s it’s difficult for the tour to be awful. However, we really feel the tour guide could have slowed down in some parts and could have explained some things more clearly [and in some cases accurately]. Perhaps, this was a consequence of arriving a few minutes before they closed tours. So our advice to you is: if you’re in (or coming to) Jamaica you HAVE TO check out the Bob Marley Museum but go there before 3 PM or at the latest 3 PM, so your tour doesn’t feel rushed and you’ll have enough time to peruse the photo gallery and the gift shop.

An unexpected oasis of relaxation in the heart of the city

One Love

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