The Museum building not only houses our national treasures today, but is the oldest public building in the Cayman Islands.
"...the Museum building dates back to the 1800s, and remains even till now, a focal point of George Town’s harbour..."
About the Building
Having endured the wrath of countless hurricanes and nor' westers the Old Courts Building is one of the few surviving nineteenth-century structures on the Islands. For over one hundred and eighty years it has provided a welcome sight for returning turtlers and seamen. Before a lighthouse was built, a lantern was hoisted every evening on the flagpole to the south of the building to aid navigation.
Located at the historic center of George Town, this is Cayman's oldest surviving public building. The first Post Office, the earliest Commissioner's Offices, and the first purpose-built Courthouse and jailhouse were all here. In turn it served the community as a schoolroom, a public library, a savings bank, a church hall, and even as a dance hall. From its front steps important proclamations were read.
It is a typical two story Caymanian building of its time: wattle and daub walling for the lower floor and shiplap boarded timber framing for the upper. The exterior flight of stairs, which at one time led to the Court Room, gave rise to the popular local euphemism "walking the twelve steps", meaning being taken to court.
A notice board in the yard kept citizens informed of current events. On the existing flagpole, a lantern was hoisted by night to guide returning ships to safe harbour.
It is here, on the front steps of the Old Courts Building, that many important proclamations were read. The Old Courts Building holds a special place in Caymanian hearts. So many events of national importance have taken place here that it has become more than a building--it is a symbol of our National Heritage.
Today, the building serves as the home of the Cayman Islands National Museum which was established in 1979 to collect, preserve, interpret and exhibit the natural, cultural and art history of the Cayman Islands.