Belize // Belize City //

Museum of Belize

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At the north end of Queen Street, in front of the Central Bank building, the city’s former colonial prison, built in 1857, has undergone a remarkable transformation to become the Museum of Belize (Mon–Thurs 8.30am–5pm, Fri 8.30am–4.30pm; Bz$10; t 223-4524, w http://www.nichbelize.org). The lower floor, with exposed brickwork and barred windows, recalls the structure’s original purpose and includes a reconstruction of a cell as well as a small exhibition on the jail’s former occupants. The majority of the floor, however, is devoted to photographs and artefacts chronicling the city’s history. Though these are quite interesting, the star attractions are actually upstairs, in the Maya Masterpieces gallery: a first-class collection of the best of Belize’s Maya artefacts, including some of the finest painted Maya ceramics anywhere. This floor also includes an exhibit on the jades of Belize, including a replica of the famous Jade Head from Altun Ha, as well as masks, pendants and necklaces. Visitors can also peruse a comprehensive collection of Belizean stamps and an excellent selection of the country’s insects.

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