Celebrated for the first time 40 years ago, International Museum Day continues to raise awareness of the role that museums play in providing opportunities for rich cultural exchanges and cooperation between people. In light of this year’s theme ‘The Future of Museums, Recover and Reimagine’, and the severe financial strain many local museums face, why not support a few museums in Cape Town on 18 May?

Here are a few lesser-known museums to support and visit: 

18 Gangster Museum, Khayelitsha

A first of its kind on the continent, the 18 Gangster Museum in Khayelitsha aims to debunk any societal myths around gangsterism and the circumstances which lead community members down the destructive path towards gang life and imprisonment. Ex-offenders have curated installations that use immersive text and a replica of a prison cell to show their experiences as past gang members and their time in prison. Their mission is to provide positive alternatives to gangsterism and show how they turned their lives around. 

Warrior Toy Museum, Simonstown

Escape into a childhood dream of toys, models, ships, trucks, airplanes and toy soldiers at the Warrior Toy Museum in Simonstown curated by Percy van Zyl. With over 4000 model cars, 500 dolls and teddy bears, there is something for everyone to marvel at. For those keen to start their own collections, a sales section awaits. 

Credit: Estee de Villiers


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Prestwich Memorial, Cape Town

The Prestwich Memorial was founded as a tribute to the countless slaves and sailors executed by Dutch settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Visitors can sit in the garden and walk around to view interpretive displays showcasing the story of Cape Town’s tumultuous history of forced removals, slavery and the apartheid regime. The skeletons of slaves and sailors were first uncovered in 2003 during an apartment construction in Prestwich Street and now find their final resting place at this commemorative memorial. Both the memorial and the coffee shop form part of St Andrew’s Square set with lawns, trees and benches where you can also view artwork and sculptures. 

Virtual Museum:  The Standard Bank Art Gallery’s ‘Lumieres ‘d’Afriques.’ 

The Standard Bank Art gallery took their Lumieres ‘d’Afriques online after Covid.  Lumières d’Afriques (translated as African Lights) is a tribute to contemporary African creativity, a reflection of our confidence in the future of the African continent and the challenges facing the continent’s development. One of those challenges is the crucial access to energy and light which allows for innovation and creativity. Showcasing photographs, paintings, sculptures or performances of 54 artists, this exhibition offers a “vision of the diversity, power and uniqueness of contemporary African art”.