Exchange: a Place of Mystery and Discovery

Exchange is an interpretive centre and artistic space that houses two permanent exhibitions on its two upper floors.

The first floor is dedicated to trade, commerce, banking and the development of the Central Bank of Barbados, while the second floor features the history of free masonry and early education in Bridgetown. The ground floor can be booked for temporary art exhibitions and is potentially one of the larger art spaces in Bridgetown. The space is also ideal for hosting small lectures.

is situated in the refurbished historic building between St Michael’s Cathedral and the Central Bank of Barbados. It was also the site of the former Harrison Free School, the precursor of Harrison College.
The first floor highlights Bridgetown, and its role in trade, commerce and banking.This was achieved as a result of the wealth acquired from the introduction of the sugar based economy in the mid-seventeenth century.Bridgetown from its origin was the centre of the commercial life of Barbados, with its shops and traders.Sugar, molasses, rum, tobacco, cotton and other commodities were shipped out of Bridgetown to the rest of the world from the mid-seventeenth century onwards. This is reflected in the various interpretative exhibits in the Exchange.

The global connections are featured through a look at the various forms of transport, postal services and forms of communication. Exchange also features the early connection to tourism through an exhibit on the early female hotel owners of Bridgetown, most famously Rachael Pringle Polgreen.

The story is also told of the establishment of banks and financial services from the agricultural banks, and first commercial banks, to savings banks and co-operative banks. A key feature is the history of currency in Barbados. It also includes a display of coins and currency notes from across the world. There are exhibits featuring the Central Bank of Barbados and the Barbadian currency issued today. Also featured is the history of the Bank, the construction of its iconic building, and the role of the Central Bank in the cultural development of Barbados.

The second floor concentrates on the history of the craft of free masonry in Barbados with a wide range of memorabilia and interactives for the viewing public. Tribute is also paid on this floor to early education. The building itself is part of the discourse on the history of Bridgetown and each floor provides details on its construction.

Exchange is place of mystery and discovery.