Founded in 2001 by the Mauritius Commercial Bank, the Blue Penny Museum is the only philatelic museum in Mauritius found at the Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis. It is usually open on week days and Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm and closed on Sundays and public holidays. The entrance fee is about £5 per adult and £2 for children under 18; special offers are made for groups with more than 10 people. The collection is very interestingly presented with modern staging, light, sound and multimedia techniques.
The museum is divided into seven distinct areas with specific themes. The first room, The age of discovery, with its beautiful starry roof, contains old globes, charts, old navigational instruments and models about the early navigators between the 16th and 19th century who were travelling through the Mascarene on their way to China and India for trading. It also contains relics of the wrecked ship, Banda, used by Pieter Both, the first governor of the Dutch East Indies.
The second room, a highly coveted land, relates the tale of the island once the French led by Mahe de Labourdonnais turned it into a wonderful settlement and how it was coveted by other nations sailing through the Mascarene. Documents, manuscripts including the first accurate map of the island drawn by Abbe de la Caille during that time period as well as engravings and documents of the famous conquest of the island by the British in 1810 are found there.
The third room, Port Louis a leading city, focuses on the capital of the island through documents, lithographs and watercolours of different important areas of the capital such as the entrance to the market place, the harbour and Malartic’s tomb. Life in the capital in 1859 can be seen through four interesting lithographs in the museum.
The fourth room, the postal adventure, relates the history of postage in Mauritius including the jars used for posting messages and other items. It houses a rare and important collection of stamps amongst which are the Red Penny and Blue Penny stamps also known as the 1 d Post Office and 2 d Post Office stamps issued in 1847 which were the first stamps used in Mauritius.
The sixth room, Paul and Virginie, contains numerous scripts and books of the famous novel of Bernadin de Saint Pierre which was inspired by the wreck of the ship Saint Geran along the coasts of the island; also found there are relics of the ship and the striking marble statue of the couple by Prosper d’Epinay.
The last room, Fine Arts, contains an amazing mix of the works of numerous artists who have contributed to the culture of the island in one way or another.
The museum also has a souvenir shop where notepads, envelopes, paper, bookmarks and miniature models of the artefacts in the museum are sold. In order to understand the culture and story of the island, visiting the Blue Penny Museum is indeed important.