Though it’s a unique museum for everybody to visit, the Blue Penny Museum will especially appeal to history buffs and philatelists (stamp collectors). It’s home to some of the remaining – and very rare – red and blue Mauritius Post Office stamps, which the British colony of Mauritius issued only 1,000 of in 1847. Just 27 remain in the world today. Stop in for a look when you head to the vibrant shopping, eating and cultural precinct of Le Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis.
To help preserve these national treasures, the museum illuminates its two stamps for only 10 minutes per hour at 25 minutes past the hour from open to close. Keep this in mind when timing your visit. Split over two levels, the museum also features six exhibition rooms that focus on maritime history; colonisation; philately; the development of Port Louis; four centuries of postal history; and artworks and displays relating to the mythical love story Paul et Virginie, a novel by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre set on Mauritius.
One such piece is a spectacular marble statue carved by Mauritian artist Prosper d’Épinay that depicts a scene from the novel in which Paul carries his lover Virginie across a stream. Sculpted from a single block of marble in 1881, this exquisite artwork is a tour de force of 19th-century classicism.
The Blue Penny Museum is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. It’s closed on Sundays and public holidays. If you’re keen to get to know the capital city a bit better, while you’re on the Le Caudan Waterfront, you may also want to take the Port Louis Cultural Walk. The trail begins here and visits historical and cultural sites through the capital, including the China Town gate and a number of religious monuments. Signposted information boards provide insight at each highlight along the route.