While many feel a vacation is about relaxation, others believe it is a time to learn about different histories and cultures. South Africa’s abundance of museums offer the chance to have an enriching look into the country’s past through art and history. No matter which province you choose to explore, there’s a place worth exploring.
In Eastern Cape, The Albany Museum in Grahamstown is not one to overlook. Dating back to 1855, it is the second oldest museum in South Africa. Affiliated with Rhodes University, you can bet this museum answers all sorts of questions. Stroll through the 7 buildings that house the museum’s collections as you learn about everything from natural history to the 1820 British Settlers.
If you enjoy military history, make sure you travel to the Free State province. There you’ll find The Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein. It’s the only museum solely dedicated to the Anglo-Boer Wars of 1899-1902 in the world. It also holds the National Women’s Monument dedicated to the women and children who suffered in concentration camps during the Second Boer War.
If you’re in the Gauteng province, The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is not something to miss. As the pre-eminent museum in the world dealing with 20th century South Africa, the knowledge it holds is endless. The museum itself illustrates the rise and fall of the apartheid to the visitor as they travel through 22 individual areas. This museum is truly an experience to understand what a country went through and still is coming to terms with today.
If you want to learn more local history, try the Western Cape. There you come across the Hout Bay Museum. They keep a history of the Hout Bay Valley and its people. The museum provides weekly guided nature walks to the surrounding mountains for a true immersion into the area. If you have a fondness for fishing, mining or foresting history, this is definitely the place for you.
If you’re wandering around KwaZulu-Natal, you should look into the Fort Amiel Museum. As a restored war fort, this site holds a tremendous amount of history. Built to be a lookout post for British troops, it actually served as a hospital during the Zulu War. Overlooking the Drakensberg mountain range, this military museum will show you displays on The Anglo-Boer Wars, and typical rooms, photos, and clothing of the era.
In Northern Cape, you’ll find a unique experience at the Fred Turner Folk and Culture Museum. This museum highlights the historical culture of the “Trek Farmers” of Namaqualand. Set in the old school across from the windmill display, there are more than 1000 items are on display. Opened through the flower season, this is a treat for everyone.