Timings : Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday - 9.00 AM to 4.00 PM Saturday - 9.00 AM to 12.00 PM Tuesday, Sunday, Public Holidays - Closed
Robert Edward Hart Museum, Mauritius Overview
The historically rich land of Mauritius houses some museums that play a crucial role in preserving its origins, which date back to centuries. Among the list of renowned museums present in the paradise island, the Robert Edward Hart museum is one name that is unique on its own.
The museum gets its name from the renowned Mauritian poet Robert Edward Hart who is highly appreciated both in the French and English literary world. His residential house, known as La Nef, is an attractive cottage made of coral-stone and it was made accessible to the public in 1967 after transforming it into the Robert Edward Hart Museum.
The bungalow was once coral-made by the seashore which is now refurbished into a memorial museum. This is the very place where the famous Mauritian poet spent the last years of life. Born on 17th August 1891, Robert Edward Hart worked as a Curator and Librarian at the Mauritius Institute located in Port Louis. Post his retirement in 1941; he moved to Souillac. His first house was destroyed in a cyclone, and that is when his friends and well-wishers contributed towards the construction of this bungalow. The building was made by using coral stones, and it came to be known as La Nef.
Robert Edward Hart began writing poems and verses from 1912 when he was just 15 years old. Following his return from Madagascar in 1917, he published many of his works namely La vie harmonieuse, Sensations de route, Sur la syrinx and Les voix intimes. He was the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine named Apres Midi. It was later in 1923 when he succeeded his father as the Curator and Librarian in the Mauritius Institute. From then on, his literary activities began flourishing and enriching the Mauritian literature.
In 1937, he published a selection of his poems under the title Poemes solaires. Maison de Poesie de France also awarded him the Prix Edgar Poe for this work. After being greatly inspired by the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most important Hindu scriptures, Robert Edward wrote Poemes veridiques. Other than literature, he also had a passion for music and paintings, and he played the violin as well.
The Government purchased the premises of the bungalow in 1963 after the death of Robert Edward Hart in 1954.
The interior setting of this historic house has been carefully preserved and recreated without overtly disturbing the original ambience of Robert Edward's home even after transforming it into a museum. The reason behind doing so is because the prevailing atmosphere of this place takes the visitors back in time and acquaints them with the lifestyle led by this Mauritian poet.
There are four rooms inside the museum - two bedrooms, one bathroom and an office cum drawing room. Most of the property belonging to the poet was recovered after his death and are now exhibited in the museum. Things like his works, manuscripts, publications, furniture are displayed.
Right at the main entrance of the museum, you will find a reception counter. Postcards and publications are on sale in the counter itself. You will also see the different panels depicting the biography of Robert Edward Hart. There are also several photographs related to the opening of the museum in 1967 displayed right at the entrance.
The most significant exhibition area inside the museum is the drawing room cum office. The room accommodates Hart's office comprising of things like a wooden desk and wooden chair, pen, inkpot, ink blotter, paintings and a personal diary. The office desk that he used during his time as the Curator and Librarian at the Mauritius Institute is on display as well. The room also exhibits a painting of La Nef painted by Roger Charoux in 2003 along with other items like kitchenware, a colour glass screen, a sofa set, his poems and publications, manuscripts and letters, his violin, a typing machine, a table lamp and so on.
To the left side of the reception counter, you can find the bedroom of Robert Edward Hart. The bedroom furniture present in the room includes a bed and bedside furniture. All his personal belongings are contained in a showcase where you see his identity cards, photographs, certificates, medals, spectacles, etc. apart from that, books, poems and manuscripts are also displayed in a showcase in that room. The bathroom is adjacent to the bedroom in which you can find a shower, a water closet and a couple of furniture.
A documentary named 'Robert Edward Hart' In Memoriam' was produced by the Mauritius College of the Air in 2003 and it is shown to the public regularly in a room that has been converted into an audiovisual room.