As Johannesburg's quintessential centre for a southern African heritage experience, Museum Africa's collection is well representative of Southern Africa.
Originally known as the Africana Museum, Museum Africa was established in 1935 around the vast private collection of Dr. John Gaspard Gubbins.
Today the museum holds more than 850 000 objects, including significant collections of paintings, manuscripts, African cultural artefacts, Cape silver, ceramics, furniture, photography, costumes, explorer maps and other objects.
As Johannesburg’s social and cultural history museum, it’s located in what was once the city's fruit and vegetable market, with a block-long disguise, towering pillars and enormous interior area.
During its first 50 years, the museum was at the top of the Johannesburg Public Library in Beyers Naude; Square in downtown Johannesburg. Over a period of time, several branches were opened including the Geological Museum (1927), the James Hall Museum of Transport (1963), the Bensusan Museum of Photography (1969), the Museum of South African Rock Art (1969) and the Bernberg Museum of Costume (1973).
In 1974, the old Market Building in Newtown was earmarked for expansion as a cultural history museum but it took nearly 20 years to achieve this goal. Museum Africa ultimately went onto take over the rest of the old market buildings that were vacant for many years and opened its doors in 1994. This allowed museum staff an opportunity to review the content and significance of the collections. For the first time, the museum offered an inclusive history of South Africa, focusing on worker and black history. The museum also held part of the 1st and 2nd Johannesburg Biennales (in 1995 and 1997), creating a dialogue between the global arts community and the previously isolated South African visual art world.
Only a portion of the museum's collection is on show and there are now plans to significantly revisit these collections and bring new outlooks to the forefront.
Address: 121 Bree Street, Newtown Opening & Closing Times: 9am–5pm (Tues-Sun) Closed: Good Friday, 25, 26 December