Did you know?
The South African Museum records some 400 000 annual visitors and is one of Cape Town's leading tourist attractions
Befitting its position as the oldest museum in Africa, the Iziko Museums of Cape Town South African Museum is found in the Company's Garden in inner city Cape Town, a precinct of stately and historical buildings, not least of which is the Cape home of the president, Tuynhuys.
Founded in 1825, the grande dame of South African historical museums hosts thousands of visitors each year, is a leading research and education institution, and constantly adds to its natural and social history collections.
Here you will encounter the massive skeleton of the sauropod dinosaur Jobaria, cast from a fossil discovered in northern Niger. You can view the huge head of Carcharodontosaurus, a close relative of Tyrannosaurus. You are introduced to extinct creatures such as Diictodon, a small plant-eating reptile once common to the local landscape, as well as the a prehistoric coelacanth, a fish still found on very rare occasions.
There's a whale and dolphin exhibit to explore and a world of sharks where you can marvel at a 2m-high model of the jaws of a megatooth shark, possibly the largest predator the world has ever seen.
The museum delves deeply into African cultures, and its exhibitions of San rock art are a particular source of pride.
Also housed in the South African Museum in Cape Town is a 'celestial theatre in the round', the Planetarium. High-tech projectors transport visitors on a journey through the night skies, affording close-up sightings of constellations. Details of the Planetarium's schedule of shows can be found on the museum's website.
Visitors are offered the opportunity to visit the South African Museum's behind-the-scenes storerooms and laboratories on guided tours led by scientists, viewing some of the thousands of objects that are not on display.
The museum has parking facilities, access for the physically disabled and a café.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Best time to visit
Cape Town is generally glorious in the spring and summer.
Around the area
The museum is in an avenue of South Africa's most stately institutions, such as the Houses of Parliament, the South African National Gallery, the South African Library, St George's Cathedral and De Tuynhuys, the Cape residence of the president.
The Company Gardens are often a stop on a city tour of Cape Town, and the museum is also one of the stops on the Red Route of CitySightseeing Cape Town, the city's hop-on/hop-off bus. Alternatively, ask your hotel to book a taxi for you.
What will it cost
Museum: 19 years and older R20; under 18 years free; students and South African pensioners R10. Free entrance on selected commemorative days.
Planetarium: 19 years and older R25; children, students and South African pensioners R10
Length of stay
You can spend a good few hours in the museum; even the better part of a day.
Where to stay
Check out the accommodation facilities in downtown Cape Town, as well as in suburbs like Sea Point, Green Point, Three Anchor Bay, Tamboerskloof and Oranjezicht.