A Guide to Museums in Cape Town

MUST-SEE MUSEUMS IN THE CITY

Iziko Slave Lodge

One of the oldest buildings in Cape Town, the Slave Lodge had many different names over three centuries, including Government Offices Building, Old Supreme Court and the SA Cultural History Museum. Walking through the Lodge and seeing names of slaves on the memory column is rather haunting. You can listen to an audio-guided tour that takes you on a historical journey through the Lodge. The upper galleries are open to other exhibitions.

Buy a City Pass and get free entry at Iziko Slave Lodge.

Website: www.iziko.org.za

South African National Gallery

Situated in the Company’s Garden, this gallery features collections of South African, African, British, French, Dutch and Flemish art. On permanent display you’ll find a collection of 400 paintings, drawings and prints that were donated to the gallery. There are also temporary exhibitions of paintings, works on paper, photography, sculpture, beadwork, textiles and architecture, which provide insight into the extraordinary range of aesthetic production in this South Africa and the continent.

Website: www.iziko.org.za


SA National Gallery.

Koopmans-de Wet House

This is the oldest ‘house’ museum in the country – having opened its doors in 1914 after the death of its last owners Marie Koopmans-de Wet and her sister Margarita, who were known for helping orphans and widows during the South African War. If you want to see just how a well-to-do family lived in the 18th Century then this is a must!

Website: www.iziko.org.za

Iziko Social History Centre

Located on the revived Church Square, in the National Mutual Building, the Social History Centre is home to the Social History Library and collections of archives including indigenous material from southern Africa and artifacts from the colonial period of the Cape.

Website: www.iziko.org.za

Rust en Vreugd

Rust en Vreugd was built on what was then the outer limits of the city in 1777, for a high-ranking official of the Dutch East India Company. In the early 1960s it was restored and converted into a gallery space when William Fehr donated his private collection of works of art on paper (watercolours, prints and drawings) to the people of South Africa. You can only see part of the collection but it’s worth a visit.

Website: www.iziko.org.za

The Iziko South African Museum

You will also find The South African Museum, founded in 1825, in the beautiful and historic Company’s Garden. More of a science museum, collections on display include things like 700-million year-old fossils and stone tools made 120 000 years ago. A visit will leave you with a better understanding of the earth and its biological and cultural diversity, past and present.

Enjoy a free entry at Iziko South African Museum with a City Pass.

Website: www.iziko.org.za

SA National Museum

Bo-Kaap Museum

The Bo-Kaap is one of the most iconic areas in Cape Town and it is wildly different to the rest of the city, with colourful houses making up a lively suburb, with a distinct sense of community. The Bo-Kaap Museum, which is situated here, pays tribute to the role that the Muslim residents of this area played in the history of Cape Town. Established in 1978, the museum was originally furnished to portray the lifestyle of a 19th century Muslim family. It is now being transformed to better tell the history of the community.

Get hold of a City Pass to enjoy free entry at Bo-Kaap Museum.

Website: www.iziko.org.za

District Six Museum

The Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town, District Six was a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants from around 1860. It was a vibrant centre, with a close-knit community that unfortunately under Apartheid was destroyed. Declared a white area under the Group Areas Act of 1950, by 1982 it was no more, with over 60 000 people having been forcibly removed. The District Six Museum, established in December 1994, is a place to discover this once thriving and happy community that was the epitome of the city.

Website: www.districtsix.co.za 

Castle of Good Hope

If you really want to step back in history, a visit to the Castle will do exactly that!

Built in 1666 it is the oldest known surviving building in South Africa and has been the centre of civilian, political and military life at the Cape. This historical building now houses, among others, the William Fehr Collection, an African pottery collection and the Castle Military Museum.

Website: www.castleofgoodhope.co.za

Castle of Good Hope

OTHER MUSEUMS WORTH VISITING

Bertram House – The only surviving Georgian-style brick house in Cape Town in Orange Street.

Website: www.iziko.org.za

SA Jewish Museum – The South African Jewish Museum in Hatfield Street, Cape Town, tells the story of this country’s large Jewish community. It includes a Holocaust centre, shop, library, synagogue and restaurant.

Website: www.sajewishmuseum.org.za 

Springbok Experience Rugby Museum – This experience takes visitors on an interactive journey through the fascinating story of South African rugby.

Website: www.waterfront.co.za/historical-operators/springbok-experience-rugby-museum

Diamond Museum – Learn about the diamond industry and history of diamonds in South Africa. Level 1 Clock Tower, Clock Tower District, V&A Waterfront.

Website: www.capetowndiamondmuseum.org