International Museum Day: Explore these 9 SA museums in celebration

2018-05-18 11:53 - Kavitha Pillay
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Museums form an important part of society. It reminds us of our past, generates an admiration of our natural environment, shares cultures and heritage, teaches us volumes on every aspect of the world, takes us on journeys across countries and opens our minds to the many facets of life.

While Google can provide similar function as museums, by digitally providing information, it’s very different to the experience that museums offer.

No matter how old you may be, a visit to the museum can take you on an adventure and teach you something new every time. And the colourful displays, taxidermy and life-size models of animals, plants and people, and other interesting installations certainly add to the overall experience.

SEE: South Africa's Top 10 museums - as voted by visitors

A worldwide acknowledgement of all kinds of museums takes place annually around or on 18 May. Known as International Museum Day, the event aims to give professionals of museums a chance to meet people and inform them about the challenges museums face, says Awareness Days.

International Museum Day has a different theme annually, with this year’s theme being "Hyperconnected museums: New approaches, new publics".

According to the International Council of Museums, the objective of the Day is to “raise awareness of the fact that museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.”

It also serves as a platform to raise awareness on the role museums play in improving society globally, adds Awareness Days.

ALSO SEE: Trip down memory lane: The World's Top 10 museums

From history and heritage museums, to museums exploring every aspect of science and nature, and museums celebrating arts and culture, here are some of SA’s museums to visit in celebration.

Zeitz Mocaa Museum, Cape Town

Zeitz Mocaa Museum of Contemporary Art is a geometric marvel showcasing African art. The museum structure is a seamless collaboration where architecture and art meet. The museum’s design and the display of artwork influence each other, in a new creative paradigm - redefining the way we consume art.

SEE: Is this the most hair-raising exhibits of the Zeits MOCAA?

High walls, curvature of the silos, the way natural light enters parts of the building or installed lighting creates shadows, the spiralling staircase leading to corridors and galleries which curve and flow from one exhibit to the next, all add to the overall viewer experience, while giving artists a unique and interesting exhibition space to play with.

Entry costs R180 adults and is free for children under the age of 18.

Check it out:

Mandela House, Soweto

Once the home of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Nelson Mandela in Soweto, it is now a centre for the preservation of the family's history and promoting the ideals of South Africa's first democratically elected president. Beyond Mandela's life, you'll also be able to catch a glimpse of Madikizela-Mandela's home life as she fought for her husband during his incarceration. 

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The Mandela family lived here from 1946 until the 1990s, and was eventually declared a national monument. A tour of the house takes about 20 minutes and R40 entrance for African Union citizens

Route 67, Port Elizabeth

Dedicated to the 67 years that Mandela spent on Robben Island, this outdoor museum trails through Port Elizabeth's inner city with Tata’s quotes engraved along the route. It starts at the newly renovated Campanile building where a colonial heritage site is and includes street art, heritage buildings and commemorates other pivotal points in the history of the struggle. 

SEE: Living Heritage: Campanile memorial re-opens after 2 year-long renovations

It's free to walk but you can book a guided tour that will provide more details on the route and what each piece represents.

Iziko Museums of South Africa, Cape Town

Iziko Museums is a collection of museums in Cape Town, each housing a different and fascinating exhibit. From heritage museums such as Groot Constantia Manor House and Bo-Kaap Museum, to a the Planetarium, Slave Lodge and Maritime Centre, the museums cover a range of fields.

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Prices to enter and opening times vary for each museum or exhibition space, so click here for all the details. The Museums are celebrating International Museum Day with the following special events:

  • Special planetarium showtimes (half-price tickets are sold at the door on a first come first served basis.) Catch Search for life at 14:00 and Polaris at 15:00
  • Entrance to all other Iziko Museums, including: the Iziko South African Museum, Iziko South African National Gallery, Iziko Slave Lodge, Bo-Kaap Museum, Koopmans de Wet House and Rust en Vreugd, Maritime Centre and the Castle of Good Hope will be free on Friday, 18 May.
  • Connect with curators during guided tours workshops and walkabouts.
  • At the Iziko Slave Lodge, guided tours of gender-based exhibitions: "Still Figuring Out What it Means to Be a Man" and "I Am What I Am: Places, Faces & Spaces", takes place at 14:00 and 15:00 respectively on Friday, 18 May. While on Saturday, 19 May, a Healing and Transformation of Gender Relations workshop will be hosted at the Slave Lodge from 10:00 to 13:00.

Click here for more information.

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KwaZulu-Natal Museum, Pietermaritburg

One of the top National Museums in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal Museum boasts a number of unique collections including 8 natural history and 10 cultural history galleries, as well as a life-size T-Rex model.

There are exhibitions dedicated to KwaZulu-Natal history, geological and Paleontological material, a reconstruction of a Victorian street set in the late 1800's - with shops, stable and houses, and you can walk through a life size recreation of a Drakensberg cave with rock art drawings.

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Anglo Boer War Museum, Bloemfontein

The Anglo Boer War Museum provides an understanding of a tumultuous period in South African history between 1899 - 1902. The exhibits unfold the progression of the war during that period, highlighting the horrors of the concentration and prisoner-of-war camps as the two sides fought for autonomy and control.

 ALSO SEE: Joburg's Apartheid Museum to host new UN Day exhibition

The museum is also home to the National Women's Memorial, an obelisk that commemorates the women and children who suffered or didn't make it during the war.

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Luthuli Museum, KwaDukuza

The Luthuli Museum in Groutville, KwaDukuza, includes Chief Albert Luthuli’s home from 1927 surrounded by a landscaped garden.

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Admission is free and many exhibits pass through the museum that includes Luthuli's love for soccer, a focus on xenophobia and captured conversations between Luthuli and another Nobel winner - Nelson Mandela.

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Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Johannesburg

SA’s largest science centre, the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre supports maths, science and technology education to help build the country’s science, engineering and technology capacity.

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Situated in the historic Electric Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg, Sci-Bono boasts a collection of interactive science and technology exhibits and exhibitions, and also offers a programme of science and technology related events, activities and programmes.

Museum of Natural History, Pretoria

The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History is the only museum in SA offering a collection of original fossil material. It has collections and exhibits including hominid fossils from the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and associated fauna, fossils, skeletons and skins.

It is the only natural history museum in Gauteng and one of the largest in South Africa.

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