Apartheid Museum

Apartheid Museum. Image by NJR ZA

Put up your VW for sale and get a vehicle more suited to long distance travelling as you’re about to travel around the country to some its most iconic and informative museums…

The country’s national museums are considered the flagship of South African culture, history, and heritage. These are testaments to how South Africa has evolved and shaped its people. South Africa has more than 300 museums – which may appear to be overkill until you realize that this is the place that has been called the “Cradle of Humankind.” To be more specific, the Cradle of Humankind is found in Gauteng Province. It’s an area that’s 47 000 hectares in size, with limestone caves and fossil remains of hominids, animals, and plants. It is believed that the caves were formed from coral reefs around 2.3 billion years ago.

The South Africa National Museums

  • The National Cultural History Museum and The Transvaal Museum of Natural History
  • The South African National Museum of Military History
  • The National Museum and Anglo-Boer War Museum
  • The South African Cultural History Museum
  • The Robben Island Museum

According to which province you’re in, one can also select which museums to visit, although many museums only open by appointment so it would wise to check the relevant website or contact them directly for a scheduled visit. Also bear in mind that most museums make provision for you to buy art and other forms of memorabilia.

Grahamstown and the Eastern Cape is drenched in modern South African history. If you enjoy looking at culture and history, perhaps consider looking at the property for sale in Grahamstown: besides the annual national arts festival and the beautiful scenery in the area, the following museums are also only a stone’s throw away from this quaint and unique little town:

  • Ons-Erfenis Museum which houses ceramics, silverware, furniture, jewellery, and glassware
  • The Great Fish River Museum in Cradock showcases the Dutch settlers’ way of life through their photographs, ceramics, and furniture
  • The Humansdorp Museum features crockery, a water mill, farming tools, and clothing
  • The East London Museum has the only dodo egg in South Africa, the prehistoric coelacanth, beadwork, and a history timeline of German settlers in South Africa
  • Albany Museum in Grahamstown displays British Settler weapons, artefacts about Xhosa culture
  • The National Sciences Museum in Grahamstown, which is the 2nd oldest museum in the country, has dinosaur exhibits, an Egyptian mummy, animals, and marine life on display
  • The International Library of African Music (ILAM)
  • The National English Literary Museum (NELM)
  • The St. Croix Motor Museum with a restored 1916 car, and a workshop and library

Although there are many legends surrounding the founding of Bloemfontein, it is widely accepted that a small community, on a farm sold by Johannes Nicolaas Brits to Maj. Warden, grew into a town and then into the capital city of the Orange Free State Republic. Today, the property for sale in Bloemfontein is highly sought after as the city is a commercial centre, and because the South African Supreme Court of Appeal is hosted by the city. Additionally, many of the buildings in the city are historical landmarks built when the area was still developing. The Free State (as it is now known) occupies an important place in South African history and the history of the Boer people.

In the Free State, the choices of museums are:

  • The National Museum in Bloemfontein
  • The Wagon Museum which is a collection of carriages and wagons as well as a display on how these were made in the olden days
  • The 1849 Military Museum with a jail, military headquarters, mental institute, and hospital
  • The National Afrikaans Literary Museum and Research Centre
  • The Old Presidency which was the official residence of past presidents
  • The Afrikaans Music Museum
  • The Anglo-Boer War Museum

In Gauteng Province:

  • The Apartheid Museum, which opened in 2002
  • Gold Reef City which has a museum on geological findings and is also a theme park reflecting the Victorian Age
  • The Hector Petersen Museum which honours the students who died in Soweto in 1976
  • The Madiba Freedom Museum
  • The Mandela Museum which is also about Nelson Mandela and showcases the house where he lived in Soweto
  • The University of Witwatersrand Zoology Museum which is the only natural history museum in the area with more than 60,000 specimens
  • The African Window which is all about the cultural diversity of South Africa
  • Coin World
  • Paul Kruger House
  • Melrose House where the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed to end the Anglo-Boer War
  • Sammy Marks Museum with displays about this successful businessman and his collections
  • The Transvaal Museum which details the history of the eco-systems in South Africa
  • Roodepoort Museum where you can find information about the gold rush in Gauteng

Although each province has a good mix of museums to visit, one can already characterize the Eastern Cape as the place where the culture of South Africa is well documented; the Free State museums as more focused on war and politics; and Gauteng as the centre of the fight for freedom equality among South Africans. Whichever province you decide to visit, however, you can be guaranteed that it will contain a rich heritage of culture and history, so remember to buy a camera and come prepared to absorb valuable information.

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