The island builders

The second room of the museum offers a broad outline of the colonial history of the island.

The different prints, maps and antiques provide visitors with a glimpse of the three main periods of occupation, and especially milestones such as the successive waves of settlement, from the arrival of the first Dutch on the island in 1598 to the taking over by the British in 1810:
  • 1598-1712: The Dutch Period: The Dutch named the island ‘Mauritius’ after the Stadtholder (Governor) of Holland, Maurits van Nassau. Their attempts at colonising the island ended in failure. Worn out by cyclones, rats, diseases, attacks by pirates and maroon slaves, they definitively abandoned the island in 1710.
  • 1715-1810: The French Period: The island was renamed ‘Isle de France’ and development effectively took off with the arrival of a brilliant Governor, Mahé de La Bourdonnais. During that period, the island became a relatively strong colony, though a quite costly one for France.
  • 1810-1968: The British Period: Despite being initially defeated during the Battle of Grand Port, the British won over the island from the French in December 1810. They administered the island for nearly 160 years and succeeded in building an economically prosperous country, thanks notably to the contribution of the sugar industry.