Cultural experiences

South African museums: Western Cape


At the centre of a patchwork of wheat and barley fields, the heritage of the Caledon community is reflected in the Caledon Museum, a Victorian house filled with artefacts donated by members of the community.
22 Plein Street
Tel: (028) 212-1511
Mon-Fri: 8.00 -13:00 & 14:00-16:30
Sat: 9.00-13:00

Cape Town

The South African Museum, the oldest museum in sub-Saharan Africa, was established in 1825. It includes the modern and spectacular Whale Well, the only example of a quagga foal, the famous Lydenburg Heads and Linton rock paintings, the highly acclaimed Wonders of Nature exhibition, and a great diversity of natural history.
25 Queen Victoria Street, Gardens
Tel: (012) 48-3800
Daily: 10:00-17:00

The Planetarium in the South African Museum building is a celestial theatre in the round, utilising the complex Minolta star machine and multiple projectors to transport the audience through the night sky and wonders of the universe.
25 Queen Victoria Street
Tel: 021 481 3900
Mon-Fri: shows at 14:00
Tues: evening show at 20h00
Sat-Sun: shows at 12:00, 13:00 and 14:30

Bertram House, a Georgian house museum, is furnished in the style of a wealthy British residence in early 19th Century Cape Town. Exhibits include superb collections of furniture, porcelain and silver. The period garden is a delight.
Hiddingh Campus, Orange Street
Tel: (021) 48-3940
Tues-Thur: 10:00-16:00

The Bo-Kaap Museum, a 1760 house furnished in the style of a 19th Century Muslim home, reveals the influence and intermingling of Eastern and Western cultures brought by slaves, early political exiles and prisoners from the Dutch East Indies in the 17th Century.
71 Wale Street, Bo-Kaap
Tel: (021) 48-3939
Mon-Sat: 09:30 - 16:30

Early Cape medical history continues to live in the Cape Medical Museum, housed in the former residence of the superintendent of the defunct city hospital. It is an intriguing cultural heritage.
Portswood Road, Green Point, Cape Town
Tel: (021) 418 5663
Mon-Fri: 9.30 - 16:00

The Chavonnes Battery Museum celebrates the life, death and re-birth of Cape Town's oldest major fortification except for the Castle of Good Hope. The Chavonne Battery was completed in 1726 to deter sea-borne aggressors and featured 16 great guns. It was in active service until 1860.
Clock Tower Precinct, opposite Robben Island Gateway, Waterfront, Cape Town
Tel: (021) 416 6230
Mon-Sun 09:00 to 16:00 and most public holidays

The District Six Museum is a fascinating, constantly changing living memorial to the community of this once-vibrant coloured suburb which was forcibly removed during the apartheid era.
25A Buitenkant Street
Tel: (021) 466-7200
Mon: 09:00 to 15:00
Tues- Sat: 09:00-16:00

The Gold of Africa Museum is housed in the beautifully restored Martin Melck House, built in 1781 as a parsonage for the Old Lutheran Church. It documents the timeline of the world and of gold, describes the trade and history of gold in Africa, and showcases gold objects recovered from grave sites at Mapungubwe Hill and Thlamela. The exhibit has more than 350 West African gold artefacts.
96 Strand Street
Tel: (021) 405-1540
Mon-Sat: 09:00 to 17:00

Groot Constantia, South Africa's oldest producing wine estate, is home to the grand manor house instantly recognisable as the best-known example of Cape Dutch architecture. The museum collection depicts the heyday of wealthy lifestyles at the end of the 18th century.
Off Constantia Road, Constantia
Tel: (021) 795-5140
Daily: 10:00-17:00
Website and Website

The exhibition at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre comprises text and photo panels, archival documents and film footage, multimedia displays, artefacts, and recreated environments. Among the themes covered are racism and discrimination, the Third Reich, ghettos, the Final Solution, deportation and the death camps, Rhodes Island, rescue, resistance, liberation and the testimony of South African survivors.
88 Hatfield Street, Gardens
Tel: (021) 4625553
Sun-Thurs: 10:00-17:00
Fridays 10:00-13:00

The Koopmans De Wet House, the 19th century home of the socially and politically prominent Marie Koopmans de Wet, contains a valuable collection of Cape furniture, Eastern ceramics and Dutch Delftware. The vine in the courtyard is reputed to be one of the oldest in the country.
35 Strand Street, Cape Town
Tel: (021) 24-2473
Tues-Thur: 09:30-16:00

The South African Jewish Museum explores the social, intellectual and cultural contributions made by South Africa's Jewish community. Multimedia displays explore the themes of memory, reality and dreams.
Address: 88 Hatfield Street, Gardens
Tel: (021) 465-1546
Sun-Thurs: 10:00-17:00
Fri: 10:00-14:00

The superbly restored Josephine Mill is Cape Town's only surviving and operational watermill. Built in 1840 it stands in an idyllic setting on the banks of the Liesbeek River, a reminder of four centuries of human activity on the site.
Boundary Road, Newlands
Tel: (021) 686-4939
Mon-Fri: 09:00-16:00

The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building in South Africa, a pentagonal fortification constructed between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company or VOC. The castle houses a Military Museum, the William Fehr Collection of artwork reflecting cultural life at the Cape from the early VOC days, the Het Bakhuis and Dolphin Pool, the Castle Forge, the Lady Anne Barnard Room, the Torture Room and Dungeon and De Goewerneur Restaurant.
Castle Street
Tel: (021) 787-1249
Daily: 09:00-16:00
Website and Website

For nearly 400 years Robben Island, 12 kilometres from Cape Town, was the place rulers sent those they regarded as political troublemakers, social outcasts and the unwanted of society. The island is known throughout the world for its most famous prisoner, Nelson Mandela, who spent much of his 27-year imprisonment there. It has been declared a World Heritage Site in recognition of its human rights iconic status.
Departs from Nelson Mandela Gateway, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
Tel: (021) 409-5100
Website and Website

At Rust en Vreugd you will find a selection of the world-renowned William Fehr Collection's pictorial Africana of the 16th to 19th centuries. These watercolours, etchings and engravings depict an array of historical events, people and buildings as well as important maritime views of the early Cape.
78 Buitenkant Street
Tel: (021) 464-3280
Mon-Fri: 08:30 to 16:30

The Slave Lodge is one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town. The many names of the building over three centuries - Slave Lodge, Government Offices Building, Old Supreme Court, and South African Cultural History Museum - reflect the long and rich history of the building.
Corner of Adderley and Wale Streets
Tel: (021) 460-8240
Mon-Fri: 08:30 to 16:30
Sa: 09:00 to 13:00

The early days of the Royal Flying Corps and the development of the South African Airforce are documented at the South African Air Force Museum sited at the Ysterplaat Air Force Base. There is also an exhibition of art on aircraft and avionics.
Ysterplaat Air Force Base
Tel: (021) 508-6377
Mon-Fri: 09:00-16:00
Weekends: 10:00-16:00

The South African Maritime Museum in the heart of Cape Town's old working harbour features SAS Somerset, the last boom defence vessel in existence, a ship model workshop, a lighthouse multimedia spectacular and a hands-on children's discovery cove.
Dock Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Tel: (021) 405-2880
Daily: 10:00-17:00

The Suid-Afrikaanse Sendinggestig Museum, the 1804 slave chapel erected by the SA Missionary Society, is an architectural gem, exquisitely restored. The comprehensive exhibition details Christian missions in the Western Cape and provides a starting point and orientation for touring the mission route.
40 Long Street
Tel: (021) 23-6755
Mon-Fri: 09:00-16:00
Sat: (School holidays only) 09:00-12:00

Technology and fun meet at the Telkom Exploratorium on a journey that reveals the magic of telecommunications through hands-on exhibits and a historical collection. Discover space communication and the internet and watch a laser show.
Union Castle Building, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
Tel: (021) 419-5957
Tues-Sun: 09:00-16:00


The Citrusdal Museum, housed in a charming stone building that was this tiny hamlet's original church, takes you back to the first San Bushman inhabitant of the area and includes the pioneering days of the early colonists.
Corner Kerk and Muller Streets
Tel: (022) 921-3210
Mon-Fri: 8:00-13:00 & 14:00-16:30
Sat: 09:00-12:00 (16:30 in season

Craig Royston Museum - James MacGregor, an entrepeneurial Scot, created Craig Royston in 1860 and made his name and fortune in the valley. The Scottish connection is celebrated at the museum
Modderfontein Farm, N7
Tel: (022) 921-2963
Mon-Sat: 09:00-16:30
Sun: 10:00-16:30 in season.


The Darling Museum and Gallery details the butter-making industry of the town and also contains domestic artefacts of earlier times.
Pastorie Street
Tel : (022) 492-3361
Mon-Thur: 09:00 to 13:00; 14:00 to 16:00
Fri: 09:00 to 13:00; 14:00 to 15:30
Sat-Sun: 10:00 to 13:00; 14:00 to 16:00


The Huguenot Memorial Museum commemorates the French refugees who fled to South Africa to escape from religious persecution and settled in the Cape in 1688. Their contribution to the country is exhibited and can be researched. The more recent history of the town is interpreted alongside its fauna and fynbos.
Lambrecht Street
Tel: (021) 876-2532
Mon-Fri: 09:00-17:00
Sat: 09:00-13:00 & 14:00-17:00
Sun: 14:00-17:00


Genadendal Mission and Museum Complex documents the history and work of the oldest the oldest Moravian mission village in Africa, with church buildings and a school dating back to 1738.
30km from the N2 on Route R406
Tel: (028) 251-8279


Fairies and pixies are normally seen at the bottom of the garden. So is a long-drop toilet. All three form part of the exhibit at the George Museum. The ear-splitting old forest fire alarm is not the only thing to make you sit up and take notice of the pride of George.
Junction York and Courtenay Street
Tel: (0441) 73-5343
Mon-Fri: 09:00-16:30
Sat: 09:00-12:30


The Elgin Apple Museum, one of only two apple museums in the world, reflects the history of the apple industry in South Africa.
Main Road
Tel: (021) 859-2042
Mon-Sat 09:30-18:00


The waves crash into the Old Harbour Museum, an open-air museum filled with colourful old fishing boats and old stone shacks. Brightly coloured undersea and intertidal creatures peep at you from the interior seawater tanks and the sono-booth connects you to the conversations of whales. There is an active programme of workshops and hikes in the exquisite mountain and marine environment.
Marine Drive
Tel: (0283) 21475
Old Harbour:
Mon-Sat: 09:00-13:00; 14:00-17:00
Photo cottage:
Mon-Fri: 09:00-13:00; 14:00-17:00
Sat: 08:00-13:00; 14:00-16:00

Hout Bay

The active and community-concerned Hout Bay Museum tells the story of the valley and its people from wood, to fishing and even mining.
4 Andrews Road
Tel: (021) 790-3270
Tues-Sat: 10:00-12:30 & 14:00-16:30


The Angling Museum is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere, with displays of fly-fishing, the history of the rod, reel and hooks, and the coelacanth fish.
Old Gaol, corner Queen and Main Streets
Tel: (0445) 82-6138
Mon-Fri: 09:30 - 16:30
Sat: 09:30-13:00


The L'Agulhas Lighthouse, 1km from Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of Africa, is the second oldest in the country. Situated on a dramatic stretch of coast, it houses a museum and has become a popular destination for visitors to the Cape, both local and overseas.


Matjiesfontein is a charming living village in the heart of the Karoo founded by James Logan in 1884 as a refreshment stop for travellers making the then-interminable journey from Cape Town into the interior. He planted trees and a garden, built his own residence, Tweedside Lodge, and established the famous Hotel Milner in 1899. The village was restored in the late 1960s and in 1979 Matjiesfontein was declared a National Heritage Site.
Tel: (023) 561 3011


The Wheat Industry Museum is one of only three museums in the world dealing with wheat growing.
Main Road
Tel: (0264) 31093
Mon-Thu 08:00-17:00
Fri 08:00-16:00

Mossel Bay

The Bartolomeu Dias Museum complex contains a replica of the caravel which brought to South Africa by Bartolemeu Dias in 1488, marking the beginning of Christianity in the country. It also houses the largest shell museum in Africa and displays on early Khoisan inhabitants.
1 Market Street
Tel: (044) 691-1067
Mon-Fri: 09:00-16.45
Sat-Sun: 10:00-16:00


The Casa Labia Museum, housed in the former residence of Prince Labia, is now a satellite of the National Gallery and houses a superb permanent collection as well as a stream of interesting temporary exhibitions.
192 Main Road, Muizenberg
Tel: (021) 788-4106
Tues-Sun: 10:00-17:00

Rhodes Cottage Museum, in the modest thatched seaside cottage where Cecil John Rhodes spent the last days of his life, contains personal memorabilia, period furniture and a diorama of his burial place in the Matopos.
Address: 246 Main Road, Muizenberg
Tel: (021)755-1516
Tues-Sun: 10:00-13:00 & 14:00-17:00

The South African Police Services Cultural History Museum, the Western Cape's only police museum, includes Het Post Huijs, the region's first policing post, and a display on the Battle of Muizenberg. Cells, single quarters, a court, and a charge office have been recreated.
186 Main Road
Tel: (021) 788-7031/35
Mon-Fri: 8:30-15:30
Sat: 09:00-13:00
Sun: 14:00-17:00


The Afrikaans Language Museum conveys the theme of a living language through exhibitions that explore the past, engage with daily developments and plan the future. The highly visible Language Monument on Paarl Mountain offers superb views of the surrounding countryside, with popular picnic and amphitheatre facilities.
Gideon Malherbe House, 11 Pastorie Ave
Tel: (021) 872-3642
Mon-Fri: 09:00-16:00
Sat: 09:00 - 13:00
Monument: Daily: 08:15-16:30

The Paarl Museum, housed in the Dutch Reformed parsonage built in 1787, has a superb permanent collection of Cape antiques and artefacts reflecting the rich cultural diversity of the town.
303 Main Street
Tel: (021) 872-2651
Mon-Fri: 10:00-17:00
After hours by request


The Piketberg Cultural Historical Museum is a house museum giving an overview of the local history since 1655, including some anthropological and early agricultural material.
4 High Street
Tel: (0261) 31126
Mon-Fri: 09:00-14:00

Simon's Town

The Simon's Town Museum is housed in the residence in which the governor of the Cape lived in 1777. Its exhibits depict the cultural history of the town, the Royal Navy; the famous dog Able Seaman Just Nuisance and the wrecks of False Bay.
The Residency, Court Road
Tel: (021) 786-3046
Mon-Fri: 09:00-16:00
Sat: 10:00-13:00
Sun: 11:00-16:00

The South African Naval Museum is housed in the historic mast house in the West Dockyard of an architecturally significant precinct. Attractions include a life-size minesweeper, submarine dioramas, and a large collection of ship models and naval relics.
West Dockyard, Court Rd
Tel: (021) 787-4635
Daily: 10:00-16:00

The Stempastorie Museum for National Emblems is located in the former Dutch Reformed Church rectory in which Rev. ML de Villiers wrote score of the apartheid-era national anthem Die Stem. The museum contains emblems, flags and coats of arms from South Africa's political history.
2 Church Street
Tel: (021) 786-3226
Tues-Sat: 09:30-16:30


The Burgerhuis, a private dwelling, built in 1797 by Antonie Fick, the grandson of a German immigrant. It is a fine example of Cape Dutch architecture, which experts have described as the most lyrical architectural style in the world. It has been lovingly restored and furnished in the elegant fashion that recalls the lifestyles of well-to-do citizens of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Corner Alexander and Bloem Street
Tel: (021) 887-0339
Mon-Fri: 08:00-16:30
Sat: 10:00-13:00; 14:00-17:00

The making of wine through the ages is illustrated in the Stellenryck Wijn Museum through such diverse artefacts as a 7th century BC wine jug, porcelain, silver and glass, and some rare Cape wines.
Corner Dorp and Aan-de-Wagenweg
Tel: (021) 888-3200
Mon-Fri: 09:00-12:45 & 14:00-17:00
Sat: 10:00-13:00 & 14:00-17:00

The Toy and Miniature Museum, the first of its kind in Africa, specialises in finely detailed and exquisite miniature rooms. The fascinating old toy collection includes antique dolls and Dinky Toy motor cars.
Old Rhenish Parsonage, Market Street
Tel: (021) 887-2928
Daily: 09:30-17:00

The Stellenbosch University Museum displays the university's rich holdings of sculpture, paintings, ceramics and graphics by South African and foreign artists as well as prehistoric artefacts, southwestern and central African domestic and ritual objects, weaponry and costumes.
Ryneveld Street
Tel: (021) 808-3693
Mon-Fri: 09:00-17:00
Sat: 09:00-13:00

The Village Museum is a site museum containing several period houses with their restored gardens. Each represents a different era in the history of the town and is fully furnished in the style of its time.
Erfurthuis, 18 Ryneveld Street
Tel: (021) 887.2937
Mon-Sat: 09:30-17:00
Sun: 14:00-17:00

The VOC Kruithuis is the only surviving powder magazine (1777) in southern Africa. Built by the Dutch East India Company, it bears the Cape cypher of the VOC and contains VOC memorabilia, flintlocks, swords, cannon and other items.
Bloem Street
Tel: (021) 887-2902
Mon-Fri: 09:30-13:00 & 13.30-17:00


The Drostdy Museum includes the Ambagswerf, Mayville House, an old jail, a water mill, a 19th century rose garden and displays of 18th century furniture.
18 Swellengrebel Street
Tel: (028) 514-1138
Mon-Fri: 09:00-16:45
Sat, Sun and public holidays: from 10:00-15:45


De Oude Drostdy Museum is in the the Drostdy (1806), designed by Thibault. It houses a unique collection of early Cape furniture and household articles. It is also the House of Drostdy Hof Wines - visitors can enjoy a glass of wine in the 193-year-old candle-lit jail.
4km out of Tulbagh on the Winterhoek Road - follow the signs
Tel: (023) 230-0203
Mon-Sat: 10:00-13:00; 14:00-17:00
Sun: 14:30-17:00

Oude Kerk Volksmuseum - The earthquake which devastated this Boland town in 1969 created a new pride in the architectural heritage of Tulbagh and the houses in the town's Church Street were restored to their original glory. The Oude Kerk Volksmuseum contains superb examples of Cape furniture and other colonial artefacts.
4 Church Street, Tulbagh, 6820
Tel: (0236) 30-1041
Mon-Fri: 09:00-17:00
Sat: 09:00-16:00
Sun: 11.00-16:00


The Wellington Museum has a large ethnographic collection thanks to the work of missionaries whose work extended as far as Malawi and Nigeria. The long history of local industries like viticulture, tanning and fruit farming is also explained.
Kerk Street
Tel: (02211) 873-4710
Mon-Fri: 09:00-17:00


The Kleinplasie Open Air Museum is a farm museum showcasing wine culture and the characteristic architecture of the winelands. The farm buzzes with activity all year round; activities include baking, harvesting, candle-making, shearing and slaughtering. There is also a huge collection of farming artefacts.
Robertson Road
Tel: (023) 324-2226
Mon-Sat: 09:00-16:30
Sun: 10.30-16:30

SAinfo reporter

Robben Island history, Robben IslandRobben Island: where many of the ANC's leaders were imprisoned (Image: South African Tourism) Groot Constantia Groot Constantia, South Africa's oldest producing wine estate, is home to the grand manor house instantly recognisable as the best-known example of Cape Dutch architecture (Image: Groot Constantia)


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