The Origins Centre in Johannesburg explores mankind's evolutionary journey and emergence in southern Africa, exploring the discovery of our ape-like ancestors in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site and the first rock art paintings of the San people. The museum employs cutting edge technology and artistic genius, telling the story of who we are today by showing who we were yesterday.

Did you know?

The scientific name for the human species is Homo sapiens. Modern humans are the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens. The Latin name of the species translates to 'wise man'.

The world-class Origins Centre, located at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, explores the evolution of human life and our journey towards modern man.

Under the motto 'We are who we are because of who we were', the Origins Centre uses cutting-edge technology combined with works by South Africa's foremost artists to depict the evolution of humans alongside the development of their creative abilities.

Conceptualised by a team of academics and designers from Wits University, the museum aims to provide visitors with a unique experience of Africa’s rich, complex heritage.

This first phase of the permanent exhibition concentrates on the hunter-gatherer San Bushmen, whose DNA is linked to the earliest Homo sapiens.

The Centre's extensive collection of rock art affords visitors the opportunity to view the earliest images made by humans, found in South Africa. There are exhibits of their early technology together with interactive displays describing the beginnings of culture through rock art, spirituality and dance.

The second phase of the permanent exhibition is a vast array of palaeoanthropological, archaeological and genetic materials charting the evolution of humankind. These include ancient tools, artefacts of spiritual significance to early humans and fossilised remains of some of man's early ancestors.

The average museum experience takes between 90 minutes and two hours, but for the enthusiast, there is an unsurpassed wealth of additional multi-media material detailing Africa’s past.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

The Origins Centre
Tel: +27 (0) 11 717 4700

How to get here

The Origins Centre is part of the University of the Witwatersrand, in central Johannesburg, easily accessible by car, bus or taxi.

Best time to visit

Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm, Sundays 10am to 5pm. For visits on public holidays, please call ahead for opening times.

Around the area

Johannesburg is a vibrant city with a lot to offer. On the same university campus is the Planetarium. You could also explore Newtown, Johannesburg's cultural hub.

Tours to do

Book a guide, or stroll around yourself with the assistance of our wonderfully narrated audio-guides.

Get around

The centre is just off the M1, a major highway connecting the north and south of the city. The centre is located on the inner city ciruclar route, C3, of the Rea Vaya. Look out for the Rea Vaya bus stop signs in Jorissen or De Korte streets. This bus service also makes a convenient connection from Park Station in central Johannesburg, which is now served by the superfast Gautrain from Pretoria, the airport and the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

What will it cost

Adults R60; children (under 12 with adult) R35

Length of stay

A half to full day is perfect.

What to eat

Cafe Fino on site offers a variety of meals that cater to most palates.

What's happening

See the earliest image made by man, found here in South Africa, and take an 80 000 year journey from past to present in search of ancient art and culture.

Best buys

High quality art and crafts such as beadwork, basketwork, blankets, pottery and fabrics are on sale at the centre along with a wide range of books about Africa.

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