An historical overview of major South African artists, 1000-year-old clay figurines from Limpopo Province and an apartheid exhibit about the forced removals of people from Marabastad in Pretoria are just some of the highlights of a visit to the most extensive collection of cultural records in South Africa.

Did you know?

The National Cultural History Museum was founded as the Staatsmuseum (Afrikaans for 'state museum') in 1892.

The National Cultural History Museum houses a large collection of art, historical documents, photographs and archaeological objects from around South Africa. It is regarded as one of the most dynamic, innovative heritage institutions in South Africa.

Its permanent display, which includes exhibitions documenting our stone and iron-age history, as well as an impressive collection of South African art, is complemented by regular temporary exhibitions and events to bring South Africa's rich history to life. These include song, dance, drama and film festivals for which this cultural history museum in Pretoria is famous.

Housed in the Old Mint, a building of historical importance in South Africa's capital city, the museum's art collection includes works by iconic South African artists like JH Pierneef, Coert Steynberg and Noria Mabasa. These works are on permanent display and give visitors some insight into the artists' perceptions and interpretations of the local landscape.

South African crafts are also given exposure in a separate display which includes beading, weaving, basketry and embroidery. There is also a large display of rock paintings and engravings that document the unique spiritual world of the South Africa's earliest inhabitants.

Another exhibit, titled 'Schroda' after a site in the ancient kingdom of Mapungubwe, displays early Iron Age clay figurines excavated from this World Heritage Site. Over 1 000 years old, the sculptures relate to cultural practices such as initiation and lobola.

The country's more recent apartheid history is also documented in an informative exhibition on the forced removals of the Indian, African and Asian populations from the Pretoria neighbourhoods of Lady Selborne and Marabastad in the 1960s.

The Pretoria Cultural History Museum forms part of the Northern Flagship Institution (NFI), a group of eight Gauteng-based museums. It was formed through an amalgamation between the Transvaal Museum, the National Cultural History Museum and the South African National Museum for Military History.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

National Cultural History Museum
African Window Building, 149 Visagie Street, Pretoria
Tel: +27 (0)12 324 6082

How to get here

From Johannesburg, take the N1 highway to Pretoria following signs for the city centre. The museum’s address is 149 Visagie Street, between Bosman and Schubart Street in Pretoria.

Best time to visit

The museum is open from 8am to 4pm, seven days a week, with the exception of some public holidays.

Around the area

You can also visit the Union Buildings, the Voortrekker Monument, Melrose House (where the Anglo-Boer War peace treaty was signed), Kruger House (the home of President Paul Kruger), the Sammy Marks Museum and the Pretoria Art Gallery.

Tours to do

Conducted tours of the museum and the art collection can be arranged. Contact the museum for more information.

What to eat

There is a restaurant and snack shop at the museum.