One Love! A Visit to the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston

Say the word Jamaica, and most people will think Bob Marley. The Caribbean nation and its most internationally renowned musical icon are so entwined in most brains it’s surprising old Bob isn’t on the flag. But he’s not, that would actually be kind of crazy. But not really. Could he be…

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Who is Bob Marley?

Arguably, Bob Marley is the most internationally successful Jamaican artist ever, and save for a couple of track athletes, the most famous. Which is what really makes Bob Marley’s home in Jamaica the major tourist attraction that it is. It may also be the most coveted pilgrimage for all of those backpackers with dreads who think they are rasta because they listen to Bob Marley and smoke a lot of pot.  Unfortunately, as a wise woman recently said, “Reggae and reefer does not a rasta make”.  I digress.

The house, located at 56 Hope Road in Kingston, was Marley and his wife’s Rita’s home from 1975 until his death in 1981. The house was converted into the Bob Marley Museum in 1987, and now you can see the grounds and the house with a tour and learn all about Bob, his life, his music, and his family… all of which were large.

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Tour Bob Marley’s House

After 8 months in Jamaica, I had not yet been to the Bob Marley Museum. I had driven past it numerous times, and kept thinking I really should go, but it just never happened. Finally, my lovely friend Morgan came for a visit and the time presented itself: I would fork over the $25USD for the best in voyeurism of reggae royalty.

We arrived relatively early in the day for two reasons: 1) We wanted out of the boy smelling dorm room we were in the night previous and 2) we were heading to Portland that afternoon.

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With a few minutes to spare before our tour started (tours at the Bob Marley Museum begin at 9:30am, run every 30 minutes and last 75 minutes, with the last tour leaving at 4:00pm), we wandered around the grounds a bit and took some pictures of the murals scattering the outer walls. All kinds of beautiful art work and oversized photos adorn the tall walls, as well as a life-sized statue of Bob himself with his guitar. Also, Bob was only 5,6, so a life-sized statue of him feels almost Napoleonic in stature. Or for a more modern comparison, Emily Kydd sized.

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Our tour started in the front yard with a very energetic tour guide who not only had a great singing voice, but knew a ton about Bob Marley! Good qualities to have for a Bob Marley tour guide I guess…

The tour inside the house included looks at all of Bob’s platinum records, gold records and album covers, assorted press coverage, a hologram of the man himself, his bedroom with some of his personal effects and even a look inside the original Tuff Gong recording studio. Bob and his buddies started the label, which has since moved to a different working location, for recording not only their own tunes but other major acts.

Unfortunately, there is no photography permitted inside the Bob Marley Museum. 

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Things I learned about Bob Marley

Walking through the house, which is a 19th century style wood slat home with some gorgeous detailing, makes you wonder several things:
— Where did all of his children sleep? (This was actually Morgan’s main question as the house isn’t that large) Answer: Apparently at their grandmothers house
— How many pounds of marijuana was smoked on the premises? Answer: Literally millions
— Bob Marley had 12 ‘acknowledged’ children. Everyone is always sure to emphasize the ‘acknowledged’ disclaimer.
— I need to download more Bob Marley. (More of a commentary, not a musing)
— Bob’s son and Reggae superstar in his own right Ziggy? Yes, he is a fox! (Again, another observation)
— Wait, wasn’t Bob Marley shot? YES

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Speaking of Bob Marley getting shot, there is a room dedicated to this event called the Shot Room (never say Jamaicans are not witty!). This was where, in December 1976, Bob, his wife Rita, and friend Don Taylor were all wounded in a shooting that many believed to have been politically motivated. Bob actually carried a bullet around in his elbow for the rest of his life, though in my opinion the real hero of the story was Rita. This #nastywoman actually jumped in front of her hubby and blocked him from getting hit even more, taking a bullet to her head in the meantime. Women: they never get their due!

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Other facts about Bob Marley include:

Bob Marley was named the Second Sexiest Black Man Ever in 1991, following only Denzel Washington (who I totally called as being the winner before we were told, ask Morgan!)

Bob was honoured posthumously with the Order of Merit, the second highest privilege Jamaican citizens can receive. Therefore his official title is The Honourable Robert Nesta Marley, O.M. So I guess that makes him some sort of Jamaican Knight?

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Rita Marley was also honoured with high distinction. In 1996 Rita was awarded the Order of Distinction, and now herself is an ‘Honourable’.  She also wrote a book about her life with Bob, which you can read more about HERE

Also, I know what you’re thinking: didn’t Bob Marley die of some weird reason super young? YES, he did. In 1977, Bob was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of melanoma in his toe. Doctors advise amputation of the toe, but due to his Rastafarian faith, Bob refused. As the disease progressed, he attempted various other treatment while continuing to create music and perform until his last 6 months of life. By 1981, at the age of 36, the cancer had spread to his brain and lungs while in Europe. Bob was flown home to Jamaica, where he passed on May 11.

See, I learned so many things at the Bob Marley Museum! I also sang along with the rest of my group to some of his top hits. The sound of my voice did nothing to add to the performance, though it did make dogs cry and made me feel happy.

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Top Jamaican Attraction!

So is a trip to the Bob Marley Museum worth the $25? Sure it is! There is a reason the museum is one of Jamaica’s top attractions. A visit submerges you not only into the life of Jamaica’s golden boy, but also into the world of reggae, rasta religion, and Jamaican pop culture. The tour is informative and entertaining. You see not only his home but glimpses into Bob’s life that you could never find elsewhere, and you will learn a new side of the legend beyond the hits we have all listened to while on Australian sailboats with stoned backpackers. Just me? Doubtful.

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Did this Post Make you feel the Love? Would be cool if you Pinned it! 

A visit to the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston Jamaica will bring you into the home of the reggae legend, shedding light on his life, family, religion, music, and international fame.

4 thoughts on “One Love! A Visit to the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston

  1. I enjoyed “YOUR” visit !! What a shame they don’t allow one to take photos inside. All of your photos above are so filled with the colours of Jamaica..the trees/flowers/paintings – beautiful. I love the iconic huge portraits of Marley’s face, which one seems to see everywhere..there is a huge one on a wall in the old town of Hale’wa in Oahu, it is as iconic as the Che Guevara portrait. His music transcends the ages and will never be out of style. What a strange way he died, I didn’t know that ! Thanks for such a great article Emily 🙂

    1. Thanks Debbie, so glad you liked the post. I definitely enjoyed my time with Bob, he’s such a huge figure in Jamaica and abroad it was fun to learn more about him. Some of the tidbits, like the cancer and the shooting were all news to me! It’s fascinating how a guy from the hills of Jamaica can become such a charismatic legend and so special to so many people.


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