10 Of The Top South African Museums Popular With Locals
There’s no shortage of museums to visit in South Africa. You probably just won’t find time to visit most of them if you’re on a short trip. This list mostly avoids the ones that have a touristic appeal, and focuses instead on the museums popular with locals — with some notable exceptions. Here are 10 of the top South African museums popular with locals.
Sources: Louvre.fr, CapeTown.travel
1. Planetarium in Cape Town
Sit back and enjoy a fabulous view of the night sky in the southern hemisphere. No matter what the weather is like outside, you are sure to get a good view because this planetarium uses multiple projectors and its Minolta star machine to create a stunning visual experience.
- 25 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town
- Entrance R40 (adults), R20 (Children, students, and SA pensioners)
2. Origins Centre, Johannesburg
The Origins Centre is considered one of the best museums in South Africa. The displays are expertly done and include skulls that show the physiological changes of evolution; visual displays of DNA, and beautifully-lit cases of stone tools. Even if you already visited this museum, you’ll find the exhibits fascinating on a return trip. Plus, the museum is constantly hosting new exhibitions.
- Jorissen Street, Johannesburg
- Entrance R75 (adults), R60 (seniors and Wits Staff), R40 (learners), R35 (children and university students)
3. Maropeng, the Cradle of Humankind
Maropeng means “returning to the place of origin.” It is a World Heritage Site celebrating the birthplace of humankind. While the Origins Centre in Johannesburg might be easier to access, Maropeng offers a unique perspective on how our ancestors lived and evolved because the exhibits take you deep into caves. Cave tours run every 30 minutes, seven days a week, with the last tour departing at 4 p.m.
- R563 Hekpoort Road, Sterkfontein
- Combined entrance to Maropeng and caves: R215 (adults), R155 (children 4-14)
4. Robben Island Museum
Just the trip out to Robben Island Museums makes the visit worth it, not to mention the important cultural and historical significance of the site. The island has many permanent exhibits, the most notable being the cell in which Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. You will also see a mine where Mandela and other political prisoners were forced to do hard labor and the leper’s graveyard. The island is a grim reminder of apartheid. The setting is beautiful and you can take in the flora and fauna while having a meal in the island restaurant. Tours (including the two 30-minute ferry rides) take about three hours-plus and can be booked online. For more information call or visit:
- 021 409 5100
5. National Museum of Military History, Johannesburg
The Museum of Military History is one of a group of eight national Ditsong Museums in South Africa — seven in Tshwane and one in Johannesburg — targeting children, youth, adults, students, tourists and researchers. Adults and children enjoy walking through this vast museum and taking in the huge fighter aircrafts, vehicles, and naval hardware. There are also great thematic displays on the Anglo-Zulu War, Anglo-Boer War, First and Second World Wars, and the resistance movements.
- Located in Saxonwold, next to the Johannesburg Zoo
- Entrance: R30 (adults), R25 (learners and students), and R15 (senior citizens)
6. Ditsong National Museum of Natural History (formally Transvaal Museum), Pretoria
This is another of the eight Ditsong Museums, and one of the most impressive. It features vast displays of carefully-arranged animal displays, including large mammals, birds, and dinosaurs. Be sure to give yourself enough time because you can literally spend hours here without getting bored.
- 432 Paul Kruger Street, Pretoria
- Entrance: R30 (adults), R15 (learners), and R10 (SA Senior Citizens)
7. Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg
This is one of the most important museums for commemorating South Africa’s recent history. Though many South Africans have already visited the museum, or personally remember the events shown in the vast museum displays, it is important to revisit so as to never forget.
- Corner of Northern Parkway and Gold Reef Roads, Ormonde, Johannesburg
- Entrance: R70 (adults), R55 (pensioners, students, and children)
8. District Six Museum, Cape Town
This museum serves as a place where residents and visitors can recall and discuss displacement, removal, and discrimination in South African histroy. District Six was a historic residential area in Cape Town where 60,000 residents were forcibly removed during apartheid in the 1970s. By 1900 it was already a lively community made up of former slaves, artisans, merchants, immigrants and many Malay people brought to South Africa by the Dutch East India Company during its administration of the Cape Colony. It was home to almost a tenth of the Cape Town population.
- Located at Buitenkant Street, Cape Town
- Entrance: R30 (adults), R5 (SA learners and students), and FREE for ex-residents and pensioners
9. Arend Dieperink Museum, Mokopane
This museum showcases items important to the culture and history of the area, including San rock art, old wagons, and Sotho artifacts. The landscaping is beautiful, and it’s a good place to spend a relaxing day.
- 97 Thabo Mbeki Dr, Mokopane
- Entrance R3
- +27 15 491 9735
10. Irma Stern Museum, Cape Town
Irma Stern (1894-1966) is one of the most important South African artists of her time and gained considerable fame at home and abroad. This museum is worth visiting, not just because of the importance of Stern’s artwork, but also because of how the artworks are displayed.
- Cecil Road, Rosebank, Cape Town
- Entrance: R10 (adults), R5 (pensioners and learners)
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