This modern, mostly subterranean history museum, set below gardens, hosts a permanent exhibition chronicling Haiti’s history, from the Taínos and slavery to independence and the modern era. Fascinating exhibits include exquisite Taíno pottery; the rusting anchor of Columbus’ flagship, the Santa María; a copy of the fearsome Code Noir that governed the running of the plantations; the silver pistol with which revolutionary leader Christophe took his own life; Emperor Faustin’s ostentatious crown; and ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier’s trademark black hat and cane.
Architecturally, the design of the museum echoes the houses of Haiti’s original Taíno inhabitants. This design ethos is also visible internally, whereby a conical central light well illuminates a gold monument that recreates the cannons and banners found on the national flag. The bodies of Haiti’s founding fathers are interred below this tribute, and the names of other independence heroes are marked on surrounding walls.