National History Museum

National History Museum information

Location
Mahébourg , Mauritius
Address
Royal Rd
Telephone
+230 631 9329
Opening hours
9am-4pm Wed-Sat & Mon, 9am-noon Sun
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The colonial mansion housing this museum used to belong to the Robillard family and played an important part in the island's history. It was here in 1810 that the injured commanders of the French and English fleets were taken for treatment after the Battle of Vieux Grand Port (the only naval battle in which the French got the upper hand over their British foes). The story of the victory is retold in the museum, along with salvaged items – cannons, grapeshot and the all-important wine bottles – from the British frigate Magicienne , which sank in the battle.

The museum contains some fascinating artefacts, including early maps of the island and paintings of Mauritius' original fauna including, of course, the dodo; there are also a few bones of the dodo in a glass case, along with those of other disappeared species such as the red rail and Rodrigues solitaire. One real curio is an engraving of Dutch gentlemen riding in pairs on the back of a giant tortoise (a copy of this engraving is on sale in the Blue Penny Museum in Port Louis), a species that also went the way of the dodo.

The bell and a cache of Spanish coins from the wreck of the St Géran are also on display. The ship's demise in 1744, off the northeast coast of Mauritius, inspired the famous love story Paul et Virginie by Bernardin de St-Pierre.

New additions to the museum include a retrofitted train carriage out back and a replica of Napoleon's boat used in the infamous battle defeating the English.