This series of 15 low-rise buildings calls itself an "anthropological" museum representing the predominant cultures of Curaçao, but it is the breathtaking selection of artifacts from the slave trade that resonates. Kurá Hulanda (next door to the Kurá Hulanda hotel) holds the decades-long collection of globetrotting entrepreneur Jacob Gelt Dekker, who built the museum on a former slave yard and helped revitalize a derelict Curaçao neighborhood in the process. (Curaçao itself figures large in the region's slave heritage; the Dutch West India Company used it as a slave-trading hub in the mid-1600s.)
The museum presents an African-American perspective of slavery, leading visitors from the capture of Africans on their native soil into their forced transatlantic exile in the Americas. The bleak, claustrophic interior of a slave cargo ship has been replicated here, complete with iron cuffs and chains. The collected assemblage—rooms of manacles, branding irons, and ghastly torture instruments used to keep slaves in check—tells a story of immeasurable sorrow and misery, yet music and light manage to penetrate the cracks, in the homemade drums and wooden keyboards and in the prose of the slaves themselves. The museum has self-guided tour maps (and audio guides), but a guided tour is highly recommended; call to make an appointment.